12-year-old Brandi Cole is a sixth-grader at Dowagiac Middle School who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Two days before school started her wheelchair broke down leaving her stranded. An unexpected delay in repairing her chair left friends, family, and staff pushing Brandi around in a manual wheelchair for 10 weeks, robbing her of the independence every 12-year-old desires.
That all changed on Friday November 13, 2009. Surrounded by her family and some wonderful people from the school, Brandi was placed in a nearly new power wheelchair from Alternatives in Motion. For Brandi it was a dream come true, no longer would she have to rely on someone else to push her around. For the family and friends who cared so much about her, the new chair brought a sigh of relief and an end to their 10-week mobility struggle.
Two days prior we received a call from Kimberly Linton, Brandi’s physical therapist. Kimberly was devastated by the delay in repairing Brandi’s chair and didn’t know what else to do. After talking to several organizations Kimberly was finally referred Alternatives in Motion and we committed to solving the problem.
First thing Thursday morning we identified a chair we thought would work for Brandi. We did an immediate clean up of the chair, batteries were replaced, old seating was taken out, and everything was adjusted to the smallest setting. By 4:30p.m. Thursday afternoon we were confident the chair would work. George made the phone call to Kimberly and we left for Dowiagiac at 5:50a.m. the next morning.
We greeted Brandi and her entourage in the main office of the school and watched her eyes light up as we brought in the new chair. Kimberly placed Brandi in the chair and Matt went to work making the final adjustments. 30 minutes later Brandi took her new chair for a test drive and was cruising down the hallways. She couldn’t stop smiling.
This special day would not have been possible if it wasn't for Kimberly and the staff at Dowagiac Middl School who went the extra mile to make sure Brandi had the mobility and independence she deserved.