Hi, my name is Kathy, I'm a caregiver for Jessica who is a ventilator dependent quadriplegic and I am starting this "Go Fund Me" campaign to raise funds for her to get a new handicap conversion van.
Jessica's present van is nearly 20 years old and nobody even makes parts for it anymore. It has many mechanical issues which has now made it unregisterable when the tags run out. Whenever we take it anywhere there is a high risk it will stall out and leave us stranded. Jessica's wheelchair powers her ventilator and weighs over 500 lbs. So , getting stranded would be a big problem. Basically at this point Jessica is stuck at home.
Jessica Kennedy was 26 years old in 1998 when she had a brain stem stroke caused by spinal meningitis which left her a quadriplegic and ventilator dependent. After two years of determination and hard work Jessica regained minimal use of her left hand, this has enabled her to drive a wheelchair and use a computer.
Jessica has not let her disability stop her from achieving goals for herself; she has taken many online classes leading her to write several children’s books, short stories for “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, and she is currently working on her memoir. However her deepest passion is reaching out to help others, such as the elderly and disabled who may feel hopeless, lonely, unloved and forgotten by sharing her faith and encouragement.
Through the years Jessica has done speaking engagements to provide help and encouragement to others, however for the past several years she has basically been housebound aside from short necessary trips because her handicap converted van is so old, rundown and unsafe to use.
Many things that most of us take for granted and do without much thought are things that Jessica often talks of missing . For instance: shopping for her own clothes, makeup, toiletries, etc… Going to church, looking at Christmas lights during the holidays or just going to a park on a nice day. Jessica has often expressed to me a desire to go to the zoo. I look forward for that day to happen for her.
Most importantly, Jessica wants to be as independent as possible by providing an income for herself. If she had reliable transportation she would be able to do this through speaking engagements and book signings to promote her books
A new van is $31,000, but a handicap conversion is $33,000 more.
These are photos of one of the vans we looked at:
This ramp is a great feature with the vans now compared to Jessica's old van; she can get in the van by herself because it is all at floor level. When loading into her old van it takes two peaple to get her in; one person has to be outside controling the lift, which lifts her in the air about four feet and the other person has to be inside to guide her in. Her chair must be reclined all the way so her head will not hit the top of the van. Actually the day we took these pictures The ramp lift of her old van stalled out with her on it up in the air.
This is a list Jessica put together of how a new van would impact her life:
With the handicap conversion van I will be able to do the following.:
· Serve the disabled, shut-in and chronically ill through visits to their homes, hospitals and nursing homes.
· Go to church
· Go to my doctors in Dallas
· Attend book signings and speaking engagements
· Can get in and out of the van with only one caregiver instead of 2. I haven’t been able to go anywhere for 19 years unless I could find or pay for 2 people My mom or dad used to go, but they are in there 70’s
· With a new van, I will be able to drive up the ramp into the van. Currently I need to be pushed and reclined.
· The front passenger seat can be easily removed and I can sit in the front!
· I am tall and for 19 years all I could see was the bumpers of other cars and pavement.
Jessica, her family and myself are very grateful and thankful for any support you can give towards her getting a new handicap conversion van.
A photo of me and Jessica. Dec, 2016
If you would like to know more about Jessica and about her work as an author, please visit any of the following links:
Jessica's Website and Weblog
Facebook Van page
- Susan Berger
- Lisa Tilburg
- Tyler Watkins
- Jenny Bard