Wheelchair Accessible Vans, Handicap Accessible Vans, Mobility Impairment

  • Fall Season Miracle League Baseball!

    Miracle League of Franklin County Time to PLAY BALL!

    The fall season of Miracle League Baseball is right around the corner!  There are several leagues in North Carolina...some are well established and have been playing ball for several years.  Other leagues are brand new and bringing Miracle League ball to areas that have not been able to share in the fun without quite a bit of traveling.

    It is only fitting that America's Pastime is highly adaptable to kids with disabilities, who traditionally have to adapt to an able-bodied world to enjoy themselves.  When they are accompanied by a buddy to help them bat, get around the bases and play in the field, handicapped kids have every bit as much fun playing ball as anyone else...you can see it on their faces.  Just sitting and watching a Miracle League game is truly one of the most rewarding experiences ever.

    Usually, the game is played on a rubberized surface that has the field marked so that it looks like a baseball diamond with green "grass" and "dirt" infield.  It is perfectly flat so there are no obstacles to wheelchairs, walkers, braces, etc.  The kids always get a hit when they bat and they always score a run in each inning.  When new leagues start up, they frequently play on regular fields while funds are being raised for the Miracle League field to be built in their area.  This gives the kids a chance to play ball earlier in their lives.

    Parents even get a chance to take a little break from a very busy life, and watch from the stands as their kids play baseball.  If you want to be a buddy to help these kids play ball, or if you know someone who may want to play on a Miracle League team, contact some of the area leagues linked below.  There are several ways to help out, including coaching, being a buddy, concessions, fund raising and in-kind donations.

    Here are links to Miracle Leagues in the region:








  • A Dad’s story about his disabled son, Shay and a game of baseball…

    Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

    I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

    Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.   I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

    In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

    In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

    In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

    Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

    At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

    Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

    However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

    The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

    The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

    As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

    The game would now be over.

    The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

    Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

    Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

    Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!

    Run to first!'

    Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

    He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

    Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

    Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

    By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball.  The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

    He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

    Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

    All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

    Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

    Shay, run to third!'

    As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

    Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

    That day, the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.

    Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

  • Rachelle Friedman: Wedding Day Surprise!

    In a recent blog entry about Rachelle and her fiance Chris Chapman, we told you the latest chapter in the  journey leading up to their wedding day.  We are happy to announce that they were recently married and have returned from a great honeymoon, ready to begin their life together as husband and wife! The wedding ceremony was perfect!  The reception went off just as planned as friends and family of Rachelle and Chris celebrated the event into the afternoon.  There was a hidden wrinkle in the reception plans, though! Very few people knew it, but at the end of the reception, BraunAbility, Toyota and Van Products were about give the couple a surprise wedding gift...a 2011 wheelchair accessible van!  They had already enjoyed a van donated by Van Products in the months leading up to the wedding, which really helped out with all of the running around that comes with planning such an big event.

    Rachelle and Chris

    Rachelle, Chris (left) and Van Products President Tim Harrell

    They probably wondered quietly, how they would permanently solve the problem of transportation after the wedding and honeymoon...but before the day was over, all of that uncertainty disappeared as they drove off in their new accessible van!  Between Van Products and BraunAbility, the challenges of transportation have been taken care of since February of 2011 and well into the future. Van Products will work closely with Rachelle in the near future to install the necessary adaptive driving controls and training needed to make the most of her independence as a driver. And we'll keep you posted along the way!

  • Helping Your Child: From Acceptance to Access

    Helping Your Child: From Acceptance to AccessAccess is a basic human right. In an ideal world, it would not depend on an individuals’ physical capabilities, but rather on their desire to do something or go somewhere. However, for parents of differently-abled children, this is not necessarily the case. In order to ensure safety and accessibility, parents must consider a variety of aspects for both in home and out of home situations.Home is of first and foremost importance when ensuring a child’s accessibility. Simple things like doorways, narrow hallways, steps and furniture layout can be daunting to a child with unique physical capabilities.

    1. First, remove things that can easily be tripped over. Although things like carpets may seem like a non-threat, a child’s crutch could easily catch the edge of a rug, causing a dangerous fall. To prevent this, tape rugs to the floor, eliminating the danger of loose edges.
    2. Unstable furniture is another potential in-home threat so try to use sturdy furniture that doesn’t easily fall over. Also, in determining room layouts, create wide aisles and generous spatial arrangements that give your child optimal maneuverability.
    3. Last, but certainly not least: lighting. Whatever your child’s unique abilities entail, it is important to create a well lit environment. Doing so can prevent accidents and create an overall sense of well being (for both you and and your child.)

    The second area to consider in terms of accessibility is the school zone. There are several steps that can be taken in order to make your child’s educational facility both accessible and safe. Reaching out to the school administrator is a great way to educate them about your child’s unique needs. If possible, schedule a time to walk through classrooms and other relevant facilities in order to make suggestions and point out potential problem areas. Small changes, like widening aisles between desks, can make all the difference in your child’s overall accessibility.

    Don’t forget to also consider public outings.  If you’re planning a trip to a restaurant, a movie theater, or another similar space, call ahead to ensure that the facility has taken necessary steps to accommodate individuals with special needs. These precautionary steps help to ensure a  positive experience for everyone involved.

    When it comes to extracurricular activities, every child deserves to participate in fun active endeavors. Research special programs, sporting leagues and camps that are designed to accommodate children with unique needs. Adaptive sports programs, whose specific purpose is to provide sporting and recreation opportunities for children with special needs, are growing exponentially. Specifically, Disabled Sports USA, has 92 chapters in 37 states, Blaze Sports, another large organization with clubs throughout the US, offers a wide variety of adaptive actives.

    By taking a few simple precautions, your disabled child can have the accessibility they deserve, increasing your child’s, as well as your own, quality of life.

  • Helping Your Child: From Awareness to Acceptance

    Acceptance is an issue with which all adolescents, disabled or not, struggle. However, a child with special needs may find acceptance to be particularly daunting. As a parent, it is important to ensure that this is not the case, and there are a number of ways to do so.

    Education First and foremost, let your child know that they are loved. Spending time with them, and showing them lots of affection makes children feel good about themselves, which is incredibly important to their own self-esteem. Talk to your child about their unique situation, allowing them to ask questions, while offering explanations and insight. Building their personal level of understanding will boost their self-acceptance. It’s also important to explain that not everyone has the same level of understanding, and because of this could inadvertently hurt their feelings. Rather than getting angry or upset, teach your child to approach the situation in the stance of an ambassador. By helping others understand their unique abilities, they are ultimately creating a better educated and more understanding environment for themselves and their disabled peers.

    Promoting Acceptance Rather than isolating your child for fear of teasing or differential treatment, engage your child in positive peer interaction. Withholding them from social situations will only hinder their interpersonal development. Find a friendly, accepting environment where your child can play and express themselves with other children. Research camps, school programs and other activities that are designed to accommodate children with special needs. Another option is to organize a playgroup where children with special needs and those without special needs can come together and interact. Plan interesting interactive activities for the children to participate in, and in doing so, explain to the other children what your child’s condition is and teach them the importance of including everyone. These playgroups can teach acceptance, while also helping ease disabled children into social interaction and help them lean to make friends.

    Encouragement Another way to encourage self-acceptance is to show them images of similarly disabled celebrities who have excelled in a wide realm of arenas. This can be a great illustrator that, although they do face unique challenges, their opportunities are as endless as the next person’s. Encourage your special needs child to participate in activities they are interested in, stressing the fact that they can excel as well as anyone. Doing so is a great way to keep your child encouraged and engaged.

    Volunteering for the Cause A final way to promote acceptance, on a more public front, is to become involved with charitable organizations that support children with unique needs. Volunteering your time promotes awareness, increases public understanding, and shows your child how important their needs are to you. Participating in walk-a-thons and other charitable events is great bonding experience for your entire family and provides your child with a sense well-being and accomplishment.

  • Helping Your Child: From Disability to Awareness

    Building a healthy supportive environment for your disabled child involves raising awareness on a variety of levels. Not only do parents need to supplement their own knowledge and understanding, but it is also important to educate family members, reach out to individuals at the child’s school, share information with classmates, and most importantly, help the child them-self to increase their own level of awareness.

    As parents and primary caregivers, understanding a child’s needs is fundamental.This is particularly true of disabled children, as their physiological needs are specific and unique. Whether it’s reading credible medical articles or personally consulting professional specialists, educating yourself with the information available is an invaluable tool. Medical professionals are expert sources of information. As experts, they can provide first-hand insight into providing the best physical care and mental support, ultimately creating an environment where your child can thrive.

    Other parents of disabled children are another excellent source of support and first-hand knowledge. It’s often difficult to know what questions to ask or even what information is relevant. However, parents who have already been down that road are an excellent resource. In turn, they will probably find it rewarding to share their experience and knowledge.

    Once parents have obtained all the relevant information, the next step is to share what they’ve learned with the rest of the family. Specifically, siblings need to understand what it means for their brother or sister to have special needs and what they can do to help. Whether it’s a skeletal or physiological disability, try using illustrative tools like diagrams, or even plastic skeletal structures. This will engage your kids and provide them with a hands-on educational experience.

    Once your other children understand the physical differences restricting their disabled sibling, it is easier for them to understand limitations and realize ways they can help. It’s key to applaud and encourage helpful behavior, while also teaching your children to encourage their disabled sibling to do as much as possible independently.

    Awareness outside of the home is another facet of enormous importance. Reaching out to your child’s teachers is a great way to raise awareness in a more public forum. Start by requesting a parent-teacher conference. In doing so, you can thoroughly explain the specifics of your child’s unique needs and illustrate the most effective ways to provide constructive support.

    You may want to schedule a time to talk to fellow classmates, and even their parents. In doing so, you can help your child’s constituents understand what exactly makes their classmate different, and what they, as friends, can do to help and support them. Often times, understanding is the most important tool for children to effectively process unique situations. Create an interactive activity to teach classmates how to respectfully help your child, while also encouraging their independence. This process can be as rewarding for your child as for their classmates.

    Building awareness is a process, and involves a variety of facets, all of which are well worth the end result: a more fulfilling life for you, your family, and most importantly, your disabled child.

  • Raleigh Physical Therapy and Other Disability Resources

    As we’ve said before, life can throw some curve balls. Learning to cope with a newly acquired disability can leave you angry and confused by your restricted independence. Seeking medical support from a physical therapist can help you gain the strength and muscle coordination to do all of your daily activities.

    Here are a few Raleigh Physical Therapy practices that can help you get back your mobility:

    Dunn Physical Therapy and Pilates Center

    Trinity Wellness Center

    Sports and More Physical Therapy

    Progress Physical Therapy

    Raleigh Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center

    Total Motion Physical Therapy

    Make sure you attend your therapy sessions and don’t lose hope if progress seems slow.

    To adjust to other aspects of life, there are many groups, organizations, foundations and events that exist to support the disabled community. Here are a few resources:

    NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

    NC Department of Health and Human Services

    NC Council on Developmental Disabilities

    North Carolina Medicaid Office

    Disability Rights North Carolina

    Easter Seals UCP North Carolina

    NC Support Groups

    At Van Products, we are both excited and humbled to be a part of the disablity community. People throughout North Carolina need wheelchair accessible vans, whether they have been immobilized in a wheelchair since birth, lost their mobility in an accident, or are only temporarily handicapped during physical rehabilitation. Let us help you regain the mobility you deserve.

  • Raleigh’s Magnificent Mile Race

    Looking for an athletic event that’s fun for the whole family? Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 18th at 2:00 pm for Raleigh’s Sixth Annual Magnificent Mile Race in downtown Raleigh.

    When Sarah Witt, a primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) patient, and siblings Scott and Amy Corsmeier were diagnosed with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), they and their brave families decided to do offer a positive reaction to their circumstances. They have hosted the Magnificent Mile race for the past 6 years and are on a mission to raise awareness and funds for motor neuron diseases.

    The proceeds of the Magnificent Mile go to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, and it is a mile-long race that offers separate competitive rounds for adults and kids as well as a recreational run for those there to show support. You can choose between a competitive mile race, a recreational mile, and two kid’s races followed by a street festival with food, fun, and prizes.

    Last year a record field of over 1100 runners and walkers turned out for what has become one of the area’s premier events attracting the best runners in the state competing for the cash prizes as well as those who just want to participate.

    As an all-volunteer project, about 92 per cent of sponsor incomes and participant entry fees are donated to an ongoing search for a cure. Over the years they’ve raised over two million dollars in research grants!

    Like many of you, Sarah, Scott and Amy require wheelchair accessibility wherever they go. Let’s help them find a cure for primary lateral sclerosis and hereditary spastic paraplegia. You can register online. We’ll see you there!

  • Rachelle Friedman: Counting Down To The Wedding Day

    Rachelle Friedman WeddingIn March, we shared the story of Rachelle Friedman, an NC bride-to-be who was paralyzed in a tragic accident. The Knightdale resident was joking around with her bridesmaids when a friend's playful push landed her in a pool, leaving her with no leg or finger function. "I didn't know if I'd be able to ever have a wedding," she said.

    Van Products and BraunAbility teamed up to help Rachelle and her family by providing the use of a wheelchair van, and NBC’s “The Today Show” helped her renovate her home. 1-800-Registry, an online wedding advisory service, has even offered to pay for her dream wedding and honeymoon! "This is more of a fairy tale wedding. It's going to be crazy amazing," she says.

    In the last year, Friedman has taken great strides in adapting to life in a wheelchair and recently learned how to transfer herself from the wheelchair to her bed and couch.

    "That's something she really wanted," her fiance, Chris Chapman said of Friedman's progress with the wheelchair. "Each step is another direction toward independence."

    To stay active she participates in local wheelchair sports like rugby and tennis. Her fiance thinks "the sky is the limit" for what his bride can accomplish.

    Friedman will wed Chris Chapman at 11 a.m. Friday at the Fearrington House in Pittsboro. Congrats to you both!

  • Wheelchair Ice Skating: Cool Off This Summer

    Need to cool off this summer but don't want to just sit around inside your house? Try wheelchair ice skating! What a fun way to have a good time with friends without scorching. Have you ever been wheelchair ice skating? What is your favorite wheelchair-accessible activity?

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