The road long traveled

Help a Quad Out Project closed off last week with some great moments. We’ve raised $480 on the Help a Quad Out Project’s GoFundMe, we’re up to 206 hQo supporters on Facebook, and I personally got to ring in the Vietnamese New Year with lots of family around. OH! And let’s not forget, the first hQO fundraising event, PHO’ndraiser, has been set into motion!

This week I meet with the Certified Driving Specialist, Gary, to discuss all the potential vehicle modifications that are available to meet my needs. This includes everything from locking systems to hold my wheelchair in place to seatbelts, driving systems to Bluetooth!

What many don’t know is that this journey into mobility independence is one that I have been on for a couple years now. As a college student at Florida State University my need for safe and reliable transportation began to become apparent. More and more I saw myself missing out on family events, unable to travel. I missed nieces and nephews music and dance recitals. I missed award ceremonies and Confirmations. I missed family trips. And I missed out on opportunities, like the one I was given in college to travel to the Florida Keys to meet with representatives of the Aquarius underwater ocean laboratory as part of a school project, because I had no transporation. It was while my wife and I looked for a wheelchair accessible van to rent for this trip that we came to this dawning realization–there isn’t enough mobility available for persons with mobility disability. I’ll tell you more about that realization next time.

NMEDA Local Heroes Semi-finalist notice.

NMEDA Local Heroes Semi-finalist notice.

It was May 2012 that I stumbled across Notional Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) first giveaway contest of a wheelchair accessible van to promote national awareness of the mobility needs for the disabled. I had stumbled on this contest late…really late. I had a total of nine days left before the close of the contest’s voting period. My wife and I, with the help of close friends and family and the support of faculty and staff from our community’s two college campuses, Gulf Coast State College and Florida State University Panama City, worked tirelessly for those nine day to get the word out for my cause. We amassed some 60,000 votes on my behalf, qualifying me as a semi-finalist.

In the end I didn’t win the van, but I got something more–a community of supporters.

I not only received support from friends I knew, but gained new friends who joined in on the campaign frenzy to win votes–much like the friends and supporters I have gained through the Help a Quad Out Project. Maybe you’re one of them, someone I’ve never met personally but have found your way to me and now support my cause.

Stay connected with the Help a Quad Out Project and my journey as we continue to make strides towards mobility independence. As always, your continued support and sharing of my story brings us that much closer to Help A Quad Out Project’s $60,000 goal and spreads awareness of the need for broadening the opportunities for transportation for people with disabilities.

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