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Addie’s Road to Independence

United Access VMI Toyota Sienna Lenexa

Most of us take our independence for granted. For the McDonald family, independence is something that has not come as easily, but as of today that all changes. Today, with the generosity of the Steelman Family Foundation, Variety the Children’s Charity, Parenting Children with Special Needs Foundation, First Hand Foundation, and the Heartland Foundation, the McDonald family drove away all together in their 2016 VMI Toyota Sienna accessible minivan.

Adelaide was born premature, along with her twin brother, and at 26 weeks, she weighed a fierce two pounds and one ounce. Within Adelaide’s first week of life, she had a serious brain bleed which resulted in hydrocephalus. Addie, as her parents affectionately call her, has endured a lot, including more than 15 surgeries in her six years of life. Addie was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder and relies on a wheelchair for mobility. Despite all of these difficulties, she is the happiest little girl and continues to amaze everyone as she grows and learns new skills.

As Addie continues to grow, the family continues to face new challenges. This girl that could once be held in her parents’ hands, is now getting harder to safely lift and transport. Earlier this year Addie’s family started to research about handicap accessible vans and conversions. It was Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City that referred the McDonald’s to United Access. “Brett Vena was as so helpful and ensured that we found the right options, not only for Addie, but for our family of six,” said Mrs. McDonald. “The cost of adapting a vehicle is expensive and not covered by insurance. Mr. Vena gave us information on grant programs and with his help, we applied for a grant through the Steelman Family Foundation.”

Wheelchair Accessible Van United Access

“Brett Vena was as so helpful and ensured that we found the right options, not only for Addie, but for our family of six,” said Mrs. McDonald.

“Our mission is to give people the power and freedom of independence. Seeing the smiles on our customers’ faces when they drive away for the first time, that fuels our passion for the work we do,” said United Access President, John Beering.

“We will forever be grateful to the Steelman Family Foundation, who gave us the most generous grant! It covered half the conversion cost! Our handicap accessible van has been such a blessing. We are now able to safely transport Addie and easily go places as a family. We are extremely excited to be taking the van to Gulf Shores this summer on our first family vacation. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!”

“We are dedicated to giving back to the community that has given so much to us,” said René Steelman, founder of the Foundation.

For more information about United Access, visit  For more information about the Steelman Family Foundation, visit