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Mobility Means Everything to the Callaway Family

Black Electric Lift Specialized Vehicle

Taking your child to doctor appointments shouldn’t be a challenge, but for families with children with disabilities, it can be that and much more; it can actually be life-threatening. Thankfully, there are organizations like Chive Charities who assist families when trying to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Today is a special day. The Callaway family will be driving home in their new, safe, and reliable wheelchair accessible transportation from United Access (1389 N Cedarbrook Ave, Springfield, MO 65802). The Callaway Family will be leaving in their new 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan with CompanionVan side entry, making everyone’s life a little easier. Thanks to Chive Charities and their generous donors for helping to make this happen.

About the Callaway Family

“We were given a grim diagnosis from the start,” said Mrs. Callaway. “We were told he would never make it to birth and if he did, to cherish the short time we would have with him. The hospital had us fill out a death and funeral care plan before we were to deliver him.”

Raylan is truly a miracle. Raylan was diagnosed with Alobar Holoprosencephaly (HPE) at 20 weeks gestation. HPE is a rare brain malformation affecting 1 in 5,000 to 10,000 live births. Current studies indicate that only three percent of all fetuses diagnosed with HPE survive birth, and only one percent survive longer than 6-months. Raylan is beating the odds as he is now 7 years old!

Raylan was born by C-section due to his head being so large. He had hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain.  He was 11lbs 11oz and most all that was in his head. The day after he was born, the family asked the doctor if there was anything that could be done to help Raylan be more comfortable. The doctor wasn’t optimistic and told Raylan’s parents that he couldn’t feel anything and to just let nature take its course. Thankfully that is not where his story ended. “We had an amazing nurse who stayed in the room with us after that doctor left,” said Mrs. Callaway.

She asked us what we wanted for Raylan. We told her that he was fighting to live and we were going to fight for him.

This nurse went above and beyond to help this family. She called in an amazing neurosurgeon, even though he was on vacation, he came to meet Raylan straight from the airport. “This new doctor came in the room, picked up our son, and gave us the most optimistic news we had heard since hearing of his diagnosis.” After an examination, this new doctor believed that Raylan could live as long as 18 to 24 months but that would require putting in a VP shunt in Raylan to drain the extra fluid from his head. The surgery went well and the Callaways were able to bring their son home. Not long after being home, they noticed that Raylan was extremely irritable and were struggling to feed him. The shunt was infected and this required another surgery and six weeks in the hospital. The first two years of Raylan’s life were tumultuous and even the neurosurgeon who gave the family their most optimistic life expectancy is amazed on how well he is doing.

Raylan has Cerebral Palsy with spasticitydiabetes insipidus, ventricular shunt for hydrocephalus, and feeding tube all due to having HPE. He is nonverbal but communicates with his facial expressions.  He has no head, neck, or trunk control and relies on his family for total care. Raylan is in a wheelchair. Through the last couple of years, he has had to have hip surgery due to his spasticity pulling his legs out of his hip joints. “Raylan’s spasticity is one of our biggest struggles,” said Mrs. Callaway. “Raylan gets over stimulated easily causing his muscles to get tight. When this happens his whole body gets red and splotchy. He begins shaking all over, screaming, he gets sweaty and his blood pressure spikes.” This condition is called storming.

Despite all this Raylan is a happy guy with a contagious smile. He loves his sisters and he loves being the center of attention.

Raylan has three amazing sisters – Mackenzie is 18, Miya is 14, and Madi is 11. They are great with their little brother and include him in everything they do. Mr. Callaway works as a Sheriff Deputy for Webster County while also owning and operating a small excavating business, Callaway Excavating. Mrs. Callaway stays home to care for Raylan. Going from therapy appointments to doctor appointments and overall daily care, it’s a full-time job.

Receiving an accessible vehicle is such a blessing for our family,” said Mrs. Callaway. “I currently drive a Suburban, but it is almost impossible for me to go anywhere alone with Raylan. Raylan’s wheelchair weighs 72 pounds. It is a struggle to lift it in and out of the back of the Suburban by myself. Raylan is also getting bigger. I have to transfer him to his car seat, which he is also starting to outgrow. It has gotten to where I would rather stay home than get him out.  A handicap accessible vehicle means he could stay in his wheelchair and we wouldn’t have to lift it, and him, in and out of the back of the Suburban.” This grant would make our life so much easier to go places and make the going more enjoyable.

For more information about Chive Charities, visit chivecharities.org. For more information about United Access, visit www.unitedaccess.com.

Supporting Veterans is Important to Us

It’s one thing to say we support our U.S. Military, but it’s another to show it. At United Access, we do everything we can to show our support. That includes helping veterans through the grant process and working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help them obtain the proper grant funding for wheelchair accessible vehicles, offering veteran discounts on wheelchair accessible vehicle rentals, and partnering with veteran support organizations like the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Wounded Warrior Project.

We are just as proud of our veteran employees. About ten percent of our workforce is comprised of military veterans. The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction and inspiration. Veterans also understand the dynamics of leadership and that teamwork grows out of responsibility and camaraderie. These are qualities we look for in our employees and values we hold in high regard in our company.

Meet a few of our Veteran Employees here at United Access:

Veteran on wheelchair
  • Jonah, Service Manager in the Dallas area, has been with United Access since 2014. He was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marines. Jonah started as a part time porter and quickly worked his way up to the Service Manager position.
  • Andrew served as a Major in the U.S. Army. Andrew now works with us as a Mobility Specialist in the Dallas area.
  • Van started his career at United Access in 2015. Van was a Corporal in the U.S. Marines and now works in the Cape Girardeau area as a Service Manager.
young cadet

Showing even further commitment are the men and women who continue to dedicate their lives to serving our county. One such young man, Brodie, is the son of our General Manager in our Springfield, Missouri store. Brodie graduated last month from 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry U.S. Army. He was the third youngest in his company (leaving for boot camp 5 days after high school graduation). During that time he earned the Sharpshooter Pin in Marksmanship. Brodie will be heading to college in January. After he earns his degree, he plans to go on active during with the hopes of completing Airborne and Ranger school.

Supporting our troops isn’t just a thing we say, it’s a part of who we are as a company.

The Contarinos Are Helping to Make a Difference

Cathy and Matt

The customers that walk through the doors of every United Access store aren’t just customers; they become long-term partners, friends, and family. Cathy Contarino is one of those people. Cathy, Executive Director at Impact Center for Independent Living, has been a customer of United Access for more than 20 years. Through the years, Cathy has owned four full-sized vans that they brought in to be serviced by United Access, and then later purchased four wheelchair accessible minivans, and she’s trusted the Mobility Specialists at United Access to help customize each vehicle to her specific mobility needs.

Without reliable accessible transportation, it can be challenging for wheelchair users to get back and forth to work, get to doctor appointments, and even everyday errands become trying. In Cathy’s role at Impact, an organization that helps people with disabilities achieve maximum independence in work, school, house and every part of life while participating equally in their community, it’s vital that she makes it into the office each day. Without her wheelchair accessible van, Cathy would not be able to operate this non-profit organization like she does today.

Helping people isn’t just important to Cathy; it’s a value that the Contarino household holds dear. Cathy’s husband, Matt, started looking for a change in his career. He wanted to be with a company where he could make a difference in people’s lives. Cathy, who followed United Access on Facebook, saw that they were hiring so she suggested that Matt apply. Matt has now become part of the United Access family, working as a Title Specialist at the corporate headquarters in St. Louis.

This month, Matt and Cathy purchased a 2016 Toyota Sienna with a BraunAbilty conversion as their latest wheelchair accessible van. We can’t wait to hear about all of their new adventures!

Changing Lives Through Accessible Transportation

Accessible Van

Getting your child to a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t be a dangerous feat, but for families with children with disabilities, it can be that and much more. When a car breaks down on the side of the road it’s just an inconvenience for most of us, but, for families like the Fullingtons and the Hoffmanns, it’s actually life-threatening. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Steelman Family Foundation who assist families when trying to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

May 10th was a special day for all of us involved. The Hoffmann and Fullington families both drove home in their new, safe, and reliable wheelchair accessible vans from Performance Mobility in Portland, a United Access owned company. Thanks to the Steelman Family Foundation and their generous donors for helping to make this happen.

The Fullington Family will be leaving in their new BraunAbility Toyota Sienna XLE. This Toyota comes outfitted with a power, foldout ramp making everyone’s life a little easier. The Hoffmanns will be driving away in an extra special vehicle, a BraunAbility Sprinter which was customized to accommodate two wheelchair users for both mother and daughter.

Family

About the Fullington Family

Kira Fullington is 14 years old and is completely dependent on her family for her care. She’s 100% wheelchair dependent. She needs to be transported in her wheelchair both due to her size and the fact that transfers need to be kept to a minimum due to her osteopenia (weak bones). Kira also deals with seizures and autonomic dysfunction making long transportation times on public transit difficult as she often is unable to regulate her body temperature. Kira comes with a lot of “stuff,” meaning she has a trach and is vented, so oxygen tanks go everywhere that she goes.

In 2008, the Fullington family moved from Idaho to Oregon to get Kira access to better medical care at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. They moved in with Ken’s parents as they were getting to a point of needing help with the house. Ken, Kira’s father, is 100% disabled with significant mobility issues in his knees. In addition to being a full-time caregiver to her daughter and husband, Mrs. Fullington also provides full-time care to her sister-in-law.

The Fullingtons have had nothing but trouble their current wheelchair accessible van. Their mechanic has been working on for months and is afraid it’s beyond help. This leaves them unable to transport Kira, their daughter, for anything other than medical appointments, for which they use med transport. Last summer, their van broke down and left them stand. For most of us that’s an inconvenience, but for Kira, it’s life-threatening.

About the Hoffmann Family

Teryl Hoffman lives in Oregon and relies on social security as her source of income. As you can imagine, that creates quite a financial burden. Teryl has an amazing family story of strength and fortitude. Three months before her daughter was born, she received a phone call from Connecticut asking if she would be interested in adopting a little girl. When she was born, Teryl was told that the baby would not survive. They gave her six hours at most. When she pulled through, they gave her six weeks, then six months at the most. Well, 14 years later she’s still fighting and thriving! She’s the only person to survive with her combined diagnosis.

Bryten has a rare severe form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) also known as brittle bone disease. Her genetic type is rare enough that it is not yet numbered. Only one other person has been diagnosed with this type, but passed away at 19 months of age. Bryten also has a secondary form (type 16) that no one has survived past birth. Because of her severity, every transfer is a risk for a broken bone if not done properly or safely; even then, she often breaks. Bryten has broken more than 1000 times by age five. She has suffered from low oxygen multiple times in life and has developmental delays as a result. She also has many secondary issues resulting from her OI such as respiratory issues, slowly losing vision, long bone deformities, and is now developing spinal rotational collapse. She also has a depleted immune system and ACD secondary to chronic bone fractures taxing her body. She gets a series of life sustaining infusions every eight weeks in Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. Through it all she loves life.

Teryl currently has a 21 year old lift van that is in need of serious repair. Their van is too small to easily house a power chair, a Rodeo stroller, a manual chair, a scooter or walker, and three people. Even when it is just her and her daughter, they need to haul three mobility devices. There is always a need for a stroller for emergency backup; if Bryten breaks while they are out, she cannot drive her power chair. Teryl’s, who is also a wheelchair user, needs to count for her chair to fit into the equation.

Now both families have the freedom to do all of the things they love to do.