Help Michelle get a wheelchair van

For: Michelle Kephart Wheelchair-accessible van
Aurora, CO
Organizer: Michelle Kephart
Help Michelle get a wheelchair van (Michelle Kephart Wheelchair-accessible van)
of $25,000 goal
29% Complete
Raised by 48 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my story.

I fell out of a tree and broke my neck in 2008, and became a C5 quadriplegic. That means I am paralyzed from the shoulders down, unable to use my legs or hands.

Ever since then, I have worked very hard to get my life back together by finishing school, working, and finally living on my own. Driving is the next step in regaining my independence. Believe it or not, with the right equipment, I am able to drive by myself!

My goal is to raise enough money for a newer used van. A newer used wheelchair accessible van starts at about $25,000. New ones with a ramp start at around $50,000. I would be forever appreciative if you or someone you know might be in a position to donate and help me get a van (or, if you know how to get a van donated, that would be even better!) One that I could have some trust in that it can get me from point A to point B.

Having a wheelchair accessible van would open up an entire world to me, even if someone else had to drive it. It would change my life tremendously. My greatest wish is to be able to drive independently and, due to the wonders of modern technology, it is possible now to drive a van using a joystick similar to the one I use with my wheelchair (check out the gallery picture for a glimpse of the equipment). I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit in one of these vans and rev the engine. Even though we didn’t drive anywhere, the feeling of the roaring engine and the ease of turning the steering wheel felt so liberating and gave me so much hope. This driving equipment can cost another $75,000 on top of the price of the van and ramp, which makes this a very lofty dream. However, it is a dream worth pursuing, and with your help we can make it a reality.

After my accident and as a paralyzed woman in a wheelchair, I graduated from nursing school, obtained my RN license, and have worked fulfilling jobs as a nurse. With those accomplishments behind me, I have to believe that driving independently is possible.

I thank you all and appreciate you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you can help me achieve this next big step in rebuilding my life. If enough people donate even a little bit, it could really add up.

If you would like to contact me, I welcome emails at [email protected]

Many, many sincere thanks!


Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 17, 2017

Posted on May 17, 2017

I'M GETTING A VAN!!!! It's finally happening!! After years of fundraising and looking for different ways to make this happen, the time has finally come. I'm going to drive again!!!

Brian at Dynamic Adaptive Solutions found an incredible deal for me. Finding a used van with the driving equipment I need seems almost impossible. They are so rare, and there are so many special permissions needed to buy and drive them. But, the hoops have been jumped!

The best part is that it will only cost 1/4 the amount of a new van with new driving equipment. Instead of a nearly $100,000 vehicle, it shouldn't be more than $25,000 when all is said and done. I know that still seems like a lot of money, but I feel like I won the lottery with this deal!

Posted on June 11, 2016

Posted on June 11, 2016

From working out at Craig Hospital on a regular basis to sailing at the reservoir, playing more adaptive sports, and spending time in the mountains, there are so many experiences that a van would allow me to have. I'm reminded there are also the boring tasks, like grocery shopping when the weather is cold, that I could do with a van. But really, I'm ready to have some fun!! Thank you for helping me achieve this life-changing goal!!

Posted on April 8, 2016

Posted on April 8, 2016

Denver offers so many opportunities to people in wheelchairs, but I underestimated how much the winter would effect me. I found out early in the season that public transportation is not an option in the winter when I attempted to see a physical therapist at Craig Hospital a few days after a snow storm. The city does a great job of clearing snow off the streets and sidewalks, so I thought I would be fine. But everything quickly went wrong.

When the bus arrived, the snow that was piled against the shoulder of the road prevented the ramp from deploying. The bus driver, with his heartfelt dedication, and despite my plea that "it's okay, I can reschedule my appointment!", actually shoveled a path for the ramp and successfully helped me on board. He dropped me off at my connecting stop, but when I tried to cross the street to catch my second bus I learned another critical fact. The roads and sidewalks are quickly cleared of snow after a storm, but the snow gets piled up on the curb cuts (the ramps on the corner of the sidewalks at intersections). I had no way off the sidewalk. In my desperation I tried to roll over an icy path formed by people walking through the intersection and lost traction, now stuck on the ice in the intersection. A few cars carelessly drove around me before one person stopped and helped me cross the street. I caught my second bus, made it to my physical therapy appointment, and dreaded the commute home.
Going home was no less eventful. I got stuck in another slushy ice puddle, passed dangerously close by cars in their own hurry to get out of the messy conditions, and helped by a few people I am forever grateful to for getting out of the warmth of their cars to help me to safety.
After that experience, I decided to never again risk going outside when there are piles of shoveled snow on the ground. Unfortunately, that meant spending weeks at a time in my apartment. I work from home, so at least it didn't affect my job, but the winter was rough nonetheless.
It's difficult for me to share stories like this. I prefer to learn the valuable lesson, then quickly forget the experience the lesson came from. After all, there are so many more wonderful experiences to think about instead. However, I want to explain my renewed sense of urgency for getting this van. The weather is getting warmer and I'm reminded of how much I need to be outside. A van will bring with it so many fun opportunities in the summer. But more importantly, it will allow me to continue to stay connected to the world outside of my apartment in the winter.

Thank you all for your help with achieving this goal!

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