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Nathan's Wheelchair Van Fund

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Update 3/23/20: Because of all the COVID-19 craziness the university has suspended testing for an unknown amount of time. Since I will now be losing a large portion of my income, reimbursement from traveling to the lab 3 times a week, I've decided to start actively sharing this campaign again. The loan payments for this van are still my largest monthly expense, so any help would be greatly appreciated.


I have decided to update this campaign again because some people have mentioned possibly helping me out with this van situation some more. I have updated the goal to represent the current amount I still need to pay off the remainder of my loan ($11,125.78). Also I would once again like to state that this new van is currently in my possession, I was able to take out a loan to purchase it. That being said, any help to lessen the burden of this loan would be greatly appreciated. I'm extremely grateful for all the help I have already received.

Here are some updates on the study. All is still going well and today I signed the consent forms to extend my participation up to another 5 years! The last five years have been an amazing adventure that has given me experiences beyond what I ever could have imagined. I was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of going to Japan (I hope I can return one day), where I spoke at Osaka University, Keio University, and a neuroscience conference. Not only have I gotten to travel to places I thought would be impossible after I became paralyzed, but I don't even feel like the same person I was 5 years ago. Back then I never would've imagined being able to speak in front of a group of 100 or more people without having a panic attack and now I look forward to it. Being able to share my experiences with people who find them truly valuable or inspirational makes me feel great. I feel like my life really has a purpose and I'm helping to make the world a better place.

If this is your first time seeing this campaign please read about my story and watch the videos in this playlist. 

Update: I wanted to edit to this story for a few reasons. The most important being, I have purchased a new van! This campaign has raised almost half of the total I needed, so I took out a loan for the rest.  Another reason is, I'm going to leave this campaign open, so I wanted to make it clear that I got a new van. This is no longer an "emergency" or "high-priority" campaign for me. That being said, if the world ever decides to lay off on the hurricanes, and all the other campaigns for people that really need help reach their goals, then someone stumbles upon this one and wants to help pay the rest of my loan off... That would be appreciated.

Another huge thank you to everyone that has donated, you have helped immensely.

My name is Nathan Copeland and I'm 33 years old. In 2004 I was in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down. For 5 years I have been part of a research study through the University of Pittsburgh. I had surgery to implant 4 micro electrode arrays in my brain that I can use to control a robotic arm, and receive sensation back from it. The video will describe it better than I can.

As part of this study I travel to Pittsburgh, about 1hr 15min each way, 3 days a week. This travel has worn my 2005 Chevy Venture down to a very bad state. It has almost reached the point where it's undriveable. Without a wheelchair van it will be difficult to continue participating in the study, as well as getting to and from doctors, etc. While I do receive compensation and mileage reimbursement for participating in the study, a new van is still not a financial burden I can shoulder alone.

I have recently adjusted the goal of this campaign to  $24,299, which is the exact amount I need to buy the specific van I have chosen.  In the miraculous and extremely generous event that I receive donations in excess of what I require, there are a number of things I would put the money toward. First and foremost, I would really like a standing wheelchair. I have been dealing with pressure sores in some form for a while now. Having a wheelchair that can stand would allow me to be out and about, especially out of bed, while giving me much needed pressure relief. It would be nice to have a social life again without worrying about if being out of bed is doing more harm to my body than it is good to my sanity.

To everybody who supports me, financially or in other ways, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This study means a great deal to me. Even though I won't get to keep the implants or have any direct medical benefits when my time in the study is over, I did get to fist bump president Obama with a robotic arm that I controlled with my mind, that also felt like it was my real hand. And that's probably going to be the coolest thing anybody has done for a while, right?

Even if you are unable to donate, please share this campaign anywhere you can. The more people that see this, the better.


  • Anonymous
    • $75 
    • 4 yrs


Nathan Copeland
Dunbar, PA

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