At 19 years old, there are many places Variety Teen DeMarko has never had the chance to visit before. He has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair to get where he needs to go, but loading up in the family van has proved a challenge that bars him from truly accessing his world.
To get in a typical van, DeMarko must be transferred from his wheelchair. Then, a manual wheelchair is loaded separately in the back. This can take up to an hour to ensure that both DeMarko and his wheelchair are safe and secure, and his power wheelchair is left at home because there is no room for it.
Because this process is time-consuming and difficult for both DeMarko and his mom, Kimberly, they haven’t been able to get out and have fun as a family very often. They typically reserve traveling for necessary trips to the doctor, meaning that DeMarko often stays at home where he can use his power wheelchair to be more independent around the house.
The answer to solving these challenges? An accessible adaptive van.
But adaptive vans are very expensive, often starting at $60,000 per vehicle. And adding this cost onto DeMarko’s existing medical needs just wasn’t within reach. So, Kimberly reached out to Variety St. Louis.
With the help of our generous supporters, Variety was able to provide DeMarko and Kimberly with a new adaptive van. It is making a huge difference in their lives, and they are very excited to start visiting area restaurants, museums and other attractions that were previously unreachable for them. And because DeMarko can now travel with his power wheelchair, he is also able to be more secure, comfortable, and independent, not only within the van, but when he reaches his destination.
“We have the freedom to go out into the community, to go to different restaurants and view different things we didn’t before,” says Kimberly.
Thank you to our fantastic supporters who made it possible for us to provide DeMarko and his family with this van! To learn more about our Durable Medical Equipment program and how it gives area children and teens with disabilities access to critical tools such as this one, click here