Hello, my name is Jim and I'm raising money to buy a used wheelchair-accessible van to replace
my current 23 year old Ford van that's been constantly breaking down as of late, and has recently broken down beyond my means to fix it. It is my only means of transportation.
I've owned the van for 13 years and the break downs are becoming more frequent and numerous and the repair costs have become unsustainable.
About me: (Please bear with me, this might be long) I am a Navy veteran and I was medically retired after becoming paralyzed in an auto accident in which I was a passenger. The accident happened 6 months into my military service in 1985. Although I was honorably discharged , I didn't qualify for military benefits because my injuries were not service connected, so I can't get help from the VA.
I am a quadriplegic and a very active guy. My van is my only accessible transportation because I live on a hill in a rural area East of San Diego, where there is no accessible public transportation.
I use my van for frequent doctor visits, grocery shopping, hippotherapy (horse therapy), everyday community related activities and periodic road trips to Arizona to visit my family.
Although I'm from Phoenix, AZ, I can't live near my family there because of the intense summer heat which is detramental to my condition and the and that's why I live in cooler San Diego. My mother is my primary caregiver whom also lives with me. She and I travel to Phoenix every year during the cooler months, so my van is extremely valuable in my daily life as well as our connection to our family.
Some recent van history:
On August 3rd 2013, my older brother suddenly passed away from esophageal cancer and we needed to drive to Phoenix to attend his funeral but my van was broken down at the time from a major oil seal leak in the engine and couldn't get it fixed on such short notice. I ended up being placed in my mother's compact car by my uncle and she and I drove to Phoenix for the services.
The whole 700 mile round trip, I couldn't get out of the car except when arriving in Phoenix where I had help getting out of the car from my other 2 brothers. I ended up with a pressure sore from sitting in the car for total of 12 hours round-trip because I couldn't have my special seat cushion under me while seated in the car. Luckily, it wasn't serious.
Shortly after getting back home, I got the van fixed again and was planning my next trip to Phoenix for the holidays - a trip we take nearly every year in my van.
On December 24th 2013, my mother and I were driving my van to Phoenix for Christmas when the van suddenly died on the highway 30 miles into the mountains.
The engine wouldn't start and the van smelled of burning wires. We had to call a towing service to get us home which cost $325 because my AAA service lapsed! I was in my power wheelchair and had to ride home in the van atop the flatbed tow truck... not fun!
My mechanic said the on-board ECM computer shorted out again. He also discovered that the transmission developed a mechanical failure which both would cost an estimated $1400 to fix in parts and labor - which I don't have. As I'm writing this (2/4/14), the van sits urepaired and undrivable.
During the last several years, my van has been disabled several different times because of serious mechanical issues, including losing the transmission in the desert near Yuma, AZ 9 years ago while coming home from Phoenix after attending my grandmother’s funeral.
Just a short list of problems over the years; rebuilt engine (2002) , rebuilt transmission (2005), front brakes disintegrated because of broken spring, several electrical shorts in the dash (luckily, no fires), power steering box replaced twice from a cracked output shaft and leaky high pressure hose, the ECM computer shorted out twice both times from electrical shorts, the rear mains oil seal blew out while driving down the freeway, filling the cabin with oil smoke and oil completely coating the exterior of the van (see above).
The wheelchair lift is worn out and has been breaking constantly as well. I have been trapped on the lift a few times because of mechanical problems and worn out solonoid relay switches. I had to have my mom and uncle hand–crank the lift down to get me out several times. I don’t feel safe using it anymore. Replacement parts can't be found for it either, because of age.
The van doesn't have A/C either. It was overhauled twice but the coolant always leaks out and I've had several encounters with heat exhaustion while driving around town. It still gets a bit warm in San Diego, too. I don't dare drive it to Arizona during the summer!
This 23 year old van has become an unsafe money pit on wheels and has outlived its usefulness. Unfortunately, I can't get financed for another van because I'm on Social Security Disability which is not enough to make payments although my credit is excellent. My family has helped me all they could with repairs and I'm grateful.
I’m not lucky enough to win the lottery and don’t have a wealthy family and certainly not used to asking for charity, but this is my last hope besides my daily prayers for a miracle. Getting a newer accessible van will be a blessing and a prayer answered.
How you can help
My goal is to purchase another used wheelchair-accessible van that's reliable and no more than 10 years old. New vans are very expensive, so a reliable used van will do just fine.
My hope and prayers are that through the generosity of others, I can obtain reliable transportation that I so desperately need.
Whether or not I achieve my monetary goal, I will buy the best accessible van I can find with whatever amount I receive. My promise to you is that all moneys I receive will only go towards the purchase of the van and registration fees.
I also believe in paying it forward, so my plan is to donate my old van to the PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) to benefit paralyzed veterans, once I get a replacement.
You may contribute $1 or $1000, any amount will help!
Inspired by NASCAR racing, my favorite sport, my idea is to put donor/sponsor’s name or company logos on a window of the new van as advertising for a period of time. A photo of the logos placed on the van will be sent to sponsors, once a van is purchased - if so desired.
All donors will get a Facebook Thank You acknowledgement
• For all sponsors pledging $50 or more, I will send a personally typed and signed thank you letter to an address or email you provide.
• For sponsors pledging $250 or more, I will also place a 3” tall window sticker with your name or company logo on the van for the period of 1 year.
• For sponsors pledging $500 or more, I will also place a 6” tall window sticker with your name or company logo on the van for the period of 1 year.
• For sponsors pledging $1000 or more, I will also place a 10”-12” tall window sticker with your name or company logo on the van for the period of 5 years or until it wears off, whichever comes first. (Typical vinyl window stickers can last over 5 years through frequent car washes and weathering.)
I humbly thank you for your consideration and any contribution you make. Thanks and God Bless! If you have questions, feel free to ask.