Ride-Away’s Beltsville location was proud to present wheelchair accessible vans to John, a triple amputee and Purple Heart Recipient, and Andrew, a quadriplegic single father. Nonprofits Help our Military Heroes [HOMH] and the Semper Fi Fund, as well as Walter Reed Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist Tammy Phipps and an honorable local veteran helped the presentation happen. John and Andrew received their wheelchair vans with assistance from Certified Mobility Consultant Sherry and the rest of the Beltsville team. Ride-Away was able to connect several deserving men and their stories together on the same day with an amazing ending.
Army Veteran John Masson Works with Help Our Military Heroes
Army Master Sergeant John Masson received the keys to his second accessible vehicle thanks to Help Our Military Heroes and the Semper Fi Fund. In 2010 John stepped on an IED and lost an arm and both of his legs. John helped his fellow Medical Sergeant treat the wounds, saving his life. The North Carolina resident and brave veteran earned a Purple Heart for his heroism. John was planning to trade in his previous wheelchair van to help him acquire a newer one. Andrew, a local quadriplegic who met John through a wheelchair rugby league, was preparing to purchase John’s previous van.
Marine Veteran Tim Surprises Andrew
In 2005 at the age of 21, Andrew Yelicie was the victim of a gunshot wound. Andrew was in rehabilitation for several years, but he hoped to become independent so he could raise his now 14-year-old daughter as a single father. Andrew enrolled in George Mason University and recently graduated with a degree in Accounting. The young father planned to attend job interviews, but his wheelchair van was in an accident. He was able to exit the van, but no longer had a dependable way to get around.
Now enter Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Brown in the picture. Tim, another local triple amputee veteran who received assistance from Help our Military Heroes, read Andrew’s story and wanted to help. Tim now drives an SUV thanks to his successful recovery and ability to use prosthetics. Before the SUV, Tim drove a 2011 BraunAbility Toyota Sienna minivan that he no longer needed. Tim read Andrew’s story and decided to pay it forward by giving the young father his accessible van for free.
Andrew thought he was visiting our Beltsville location to see if John’s previous van would work. Instead, he was surprised when Tim said he would give Andrew his Toyota minivan for free.
John and Tim Get their Wheelchair Vans
Fox 5 DC joined Ride-Away, Help Our Military Heroes, Semper Fi Fund and area veterans to witness the double wheelchair van presentation.
“Everyone is over the moon with their vans,” Sherry said. “Andrew was so excited when he received his van for free. The van donation will provide Andrew with the ability to look for a job. He just received his degree in accounting and will use the van to go on interviews. John travels often with his wife and kids, so he needed a van that can safely get them around.”
Sherry was pleased to help John and Andrew regain their mobility independence.
“I would personally like to thank Tammy for allowing me to be part of such an awesome group of people,” Sherry said. “I’d also like to thank the employees of Ride-Away who pitched in to make the presentation happen. Congratulations to Andrew and John! We will see you on the road.”
Are you a veteran looking for resources to acquire an accessible vehicle or adaptive equipment? Click here to see how Ride-Away can help you.