Wednesday, April 14, 2010

wheelchair van: the throaty growl of freedom

Even Dodge in its latest TV commercial acknowledges "There are guys who will smirk at you for buying a Dodge Grand Caravan ..." 

Throw in a lowered floor for wheelchair accessibility and a disability parking placard hanging from the rear view mirror and you have zero intimidation factor when pulling up to a stop light and glancing over at bikers on Harleys or youngens in roadsters. 

That is until I rev our engine. For whatever reason the undercarriage modifications to accommodate the lowered floor in our Dodge Grand Caravan Sport minivan produce a throaty growl from the exhaust. With a recently replaced muffler and tail pipe that growl now roars, yeah baby!! 

It is bemusing to watch the heads on Harleys and youngens in thumping cars snap their heads to see what on earth is thundering next to them. "There are guys who will gape slack-jawed as you thunder up in your wheelchair accessible Dodge Grand Caravan ..." :) 

More than a vehicle this is freedom on wheels for Patti. With Multiple Sclerosis progression Patti is unable to transfer herself to and from a wheelchair and a vehicle. Patti's level of disability makes assisted transferring to and from vehicles a risk to both her and anyone assisting her. Without our wheelchair accessible van Patti's life would be more isolated and different than frankly can be imagined.

All the more ... shouldn't freedom have a throaty growl?

Like so many aspects of living with MS, it took team work, NMSS Central Pennsylvania Chapter pointed us in the direction of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) which brokered through Sovereign Bank a low interest 6 yr loan. MS Society Central Pennsylvania Chapter also was able to help us with an assistance grant that basically covered 15% of that first year's monthly payments. We have been fortunate enough to receive additional assistance grants to help make Patti's freedom of mobility a bit more affordable in 2 of the past 3 years. ... and you wondered what charitable fundraising does?

This Sunday our wheelchair van will be growling its way over to Hershey, PA for the MS Walk. Thanks to the generosity of on-line donations and old fashioned checks to be turned in, Patti's Pride team has surpassed  its goal and will be be taking a victory roll /lap. And for a few brief hours on one day of the year living with MS will not be the exception.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site: 


  1. Pat,
    I always enjoy the blog, but I worked for PATF and would be careful about praising them. On the surface they hired me as a writer, but tried to turn me into a poster child. They have a totally unacceptable mentality toward people with disabilities. We need to fund non-profits that treat us with respect.

    Good luck with the Walk. I'm doing the MS Ride in September.

  2. Our converted Dodge Grand Caravan sounds pretty much like a regular minivan. It wouldn't even impress somebody riding a bicycle, but I'm OK with that. Even though I thought I was so over the whole minivan thing, I'm grateful for this one. Without it, I couldn't even get to the end of my driveway.

    Get out there!

  3. We love our converted Chrysler Town & Country. And I love not having to transfer from my chair every time I leave the house, especially because I will never again lay on the ground in the driveway or in a mall parking lot because of a bungled transfer :-)

    Have a great walk! And is it just me, or do you see the irony in using a walk to raise $$ for MS when that's exactly what many of us living with this disease can no longer do?

  4. Rob, thank you for sharing your insight into Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF). Respect and help should go hand in hand.

  5. Jennifer, yes I have always found "walk" and MS fundraising a peculiar phrasing choice. NMSS label for $1,000 fundraisers, "movers and shakers" is even stranger as many with MS, 'shake' whether they raise $1,000 or not.

  6. HI,

    Pride Victory Mobility scooters are great for those who may not be able to get around easily. Power scooters have both advantages and disadvantages. A person who needs a scooter should really pay attention to what they are purchasing if they want to invest in something that will last forever.

  7. I really appreciated your post, this would really provide the great information .Thanks for sharing.

  8. I really think it's great that wheelchair vans have become so stylish and affordable now days. Thanks for posting the blog, it's nice to hear about other people's experiences with their vans.

  9. Perhaps it's best to see the throaty growl of the vehicle as a proud roar of determination. It's really quite cool to see such vehicles go about their duties, assisting those who need them so that they can manage in some way to have a little more convenience in their lives.


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