Organized by: Wade Palmer
On a cold winter day in 2007, barely a month after getting married, my mother and her new husband Ron Shackelford were in a horrific traffic accident. While driving their truck, they hit some black ice on the road and lost control. Their truck spun wildly, flipped off the road, and tossed my mother onto the highway. The truck continued to tumble down a gigantic hill with my step-father inside. He was pinned inside the truck cab. Rescue came an hour later, but in the meantime the pressure of the truck's weight in the cab had broken Ron's neck, creating too much pressure on his nerves and rendering him a quadriplegic for life.
Fast forward several years... after spending weeks in ICU, both my mother and Ron recovered from their accident and are more in love than ever. They've had to make new accommodations in life as they learned to live with Ron's wheelchair routine and disability.
Part of their everyday challenge is travel. Getting from point A to point B in an electric wheelchair is tough. Initially they found a local lady who was selling her well-used wheelchair van. Suddenly, they were able to get to doctors appointments, go to church, visit family & friends, and simply see different places together. This van was a real blessing to their lives.
The van worked for quite a while. Ron and my mother performed regular maintenance and had some modifications done to it in order to keep up with their changing circumstances. Unfortunately, it has become too difficult for Ron to ride in the van anymore. His body continues to change and adjust to his lifestyle, for better or for worse...generally worse. He has lots of pain in his legs (from nerve ends trying to make connections to the brain but failing when they reach his broken neck scars), and pain when he sits. When they drive in the van, my mother has to be especially careful when driving over bumps and cracks in the road because every little bump causes pain to shoot up his body. Because of the pain, Ron only leaves the house on Sundays for church or to go to his doctors appointments. Occasionally, he will rally himself to go to an important event with family but it is a real struggle for him.
New suspension in the van would remedy the problem, but unfortunately, it is impossible to install new suspension on their old van because of the way it is designed and modeled. They have looked into this option many times with no luck. The only solution is to get a newer van with greatly improved suspension that would give Ron a smooth, comfortable ride. However, the funds to buy such a van simply do not exist.
Ron and my mother would love to get out and see the world but they need a new ride! Ron gets depressed with how much he stays indoors. He would love to go out and do things, but the pain of riding in the existing van is just too much of a deterrent for him. He'd love to travel and see the world with my mother rather than being reduced to spending day after day in his bedroom, looking at the world through the window of the TV and internet.
Wheelchair accessible van are expensive. With your help, we can help this sweet couple live a more fulfilling life together. The mobility of a newer van would hugely bless their lives emotionally and psychologically.