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15-year-old Evan, an Athlete and Thespian Born with Spina Bifida, Stays Active Thanks to Wheelchair Van

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Evan is an active 15-year-old boy who loves acting and singing in theatre as well as playing football. Not only has Evan excelled in many ways, but he has also overcome challenges life has thrown his way. When he was born, Evan was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hyrocephalus, but that hasn’t stopped him from succeeding at everything he tries.

“He uses a power wheelchair to get around, and get around he does!” Evan’s mother Julie said.  “Evan loves to act and has been in 3 plays, playing a main character in all, and now he is trying the Tech Crew at his High School for the upcoming play ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’. He is part of the University of Rhode Island Football teams through a program called Team Impact, and he sails in the summer at a camp called Sail to Prevail, a sailing camp for disabled children. Evan also loves to play baseball on the Warwick Challenger’s Division, and has been on a bowling league at Meadowbrook Lanes for the last 10 years. He is part of the chorus at his High School and has been singing at the Children’s Christmas Eve Mass for the last 10 years.”

Evan Overcomes Obstacles

evan 3“Evan has endured 22 surgeries to date-the first one being when he was only 38 hours old!” Julie said.

As Evan grew, his family knew they would need a reliable way to get him around to doctor appointments and to all the activities he engages in. They started to work with our North Attleboro store more than a decade ago to find solutions for Evan’s mobility needs.

“We are second time customers,” Julie said. “We bought our first accessible van from Ride-Away in North Attleboro from Sarah Hogan 10 years ago. So when we started to think about a new van, we contacted Sarah again!”

Sarah was happy to help the family again.

“The family purchased their first accessible van from me in 2006,” Sarah said. “They are a wonderful family and I actually used to live a half mile away from them. Julie and Jason are amazing parents, not only to Evan, but to their 2 other older boys. They are a family that is always involved in community and local events. It seems as though everyone in the community knows them!”

Evan’s Family Chooses a Van

evan 4“Our original van was a rear entry and we really thought that we should try the side entry. We thought we would like the side entry better, but the rear entry is a better fit for us,” Julie said. “We decided on the BraunAbility Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, mostly because I am only 4’11” and I couldn’t reach the hatch or see over the steering wheel too well. We learned that I needed the higher model for the power hatch, doors and seat!”

Sarah was glad to guide the family throughout the process.

“When they first started the search for a newer van to accommodate Evan’s power wheelchair they explored all the options,” Sarah said. “Since they currently have a back entry, they wanted to try out the side entry conversions. After a few test drives they soon realized that the back entry was still the best option for the entire family. The beautiful 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan they decided on offers more space for Evan and his wheelchair plus larger seats in back for his older brothers!”

Evan’s family has only had their new van for a short time but they are already enjoying all the new features.

“We just picked it up, but some of the features that we love are the many cup holders, the flip up bucket seats in the back and the volume and channel buttons on the steering wheel,” Julie said. “I also like the many compartments for organization!”

While the vehicle offers many luxuries, it’s the simple things that truly make this family appreciate their accessible van.

“Just having a safe and reliable van takes a load off our shoulders,” Julie said.

The North Attleboro Team Helps Evan and Family Hit the Road

evan 1“[North Attleboro Mobility Consultant] Sarah was available to us either through phone calls or emails, for any questions that we had, or to go in on a Saturday to test drive a van,” Julie said.

Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a big decision, and Julie knew she had to consider her budget.

“We did some fundraising which helped cut the costs,” Julie said.

Julie was happy that the family worked with Sarah and the rest of the North Attleboro team.

“I have and will continue to recommend Ride-Away,” Julie said. “The advice I have for others is to take your time, test drive and go in and try it with the wheelchair you typically use.”

The BraunAbility van will allow this family to get back on the road in a safe and reliable way. Evan, Julie and Evan’s father Jason are excited for all the adventures ahead.

“The van will help us get to and from all of our appointments-our first being 20 hours after we drove it off the lot,” Julie said. “It will also help us get to all his activities. Evan has a brother at college in DC, so we will visit him. We may take some time and travel the USA as my husband and I now have summers off-he is a teacher and I am a school nurse. We are now free to do lots of travelling if money permits!”

Sarah was thrilled she could help this great family get back on the road.

“Evan is a smart, bright, energetic and loving young man with incredible spirit!” Sarah said. “I feel honored to once again have the opportunity to assist him and his family. I am confident that they will enjoy their new wheels for years to come!”

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