Wheelchair van for Tamandra
click for 10 News Story
Life can change in an instant. This fundraiser was started with my mother, who passed from metastatic breast cancer not long after. The loss had a very deep impact, making life feel in a total tailspin. It's awkward for me to ask for help, and promote myself on social media for this campaign. I'm thankful for the support of some good friends, and fellow dog lovers, and even some big names I've met, helping me inch forward.
A sudden impact- literally- when I was hit by a car crossing a busy street, walking my Service dog, changed life in an instant yet again. I never saw it coming, as the car turned left across all lanes, right into me. Thankfully my dog had just moved to my other side. There must have been a guardian angel (my mom??) because my hand was not on my wheel that was bent badly. Lucky, too, that the car was a compact. I went flying, and my shoulder broke the impact of my head with the pavement. Justice rode with me to the ER, and even on the gurney to get X-rays. Such a good boy. He was so worried about me!
I've ended up with a torn rotator cuff, and pinched nerve in my spine. Making it so much harder and painful to lift myself up into my car. It's even hard to get into bed, and transfer to other chairs. Not being able to do my work has been awful. I love my calling, of photographing pets that have terminal illness, and are soon to pass. Giving lasting images of beloved companions, capturing the relationship, feeds my soul. I'm eager to get back to doing volunteer work with homeless animals, as professional images go a long way in helping them be adopted. It's a truly amazing feeling to know that your image helped that animal find a forever home! I also love to photograph challenged athletes and others with disabilities.
My local news stations that have been doing stories on my accident would like to do a follow up. If someone could step up to be my superhero, and help a dream come true...! I have a personal photography project dream...to embark on a journey to document the incredible bond we share with dogs, how they have saved lives, and help heal their humans. My plan is to tell the story of veterans enduring PTSD, and how their dogs have saved them.
I've been inspired by our furiend Surf Dog Ricochet, who's current calling is helping veterans with PTSD with her empathetic, intuitive superpower. She can be seen in the movie Super Power Dogs out now. I've been privileged to document her journey over the past decade, and witness all the wonderful work she does. You can see a bit of it in her book, and on the cover.
Gaining my independence back would truly be life changing. No amount of help is too small, and even sharing goes a long way.
Born with Spina Bifida. March of Dimes poster child. That's me next to Mary Tyler Moore!
Leaping far at Agape Ranch Dog Sports
My beloved, amazing heart dog, Borias. He passed from cancer.
Justice True the wonderdog
My beautiful mother, just before she passed from breast cancer.
The process was not at all easy, as the van was in LA. I found it 3 weeks ago, and all the back and forth, and paperwork being wrong, then my cashier's check getting lost, it all turned into a huge ordeal. But I'm persistent, and it finally happened! I love it! I financed almost half, leaving funds for the modifications.
I just received the quote for the wheelchair lift and hand controls, and installation today. I'm having a bit of shock over it, and find that I'll need to find a way to cut some costs, and probably fundraise a bit more. My budget is stretched with the financing of the remainder of the van. The amount, even with some discounts on shipping, is $19K. Whew. So my wheels are turning in the brain to think of some ideas. My Honda Element is 10 years old, and not worth all that much. It'd be great for a rescue dog transport vehicle lol. I would donate it to a dog rescue if I could get enough of this lift funded!
Part of it is the flooring, and going the DIY route with that would save a few thousand, plus I'd get the floor choice I want. I would still need to recruit some help, but it doesn't seem like that's a vastly difficult endeavor. I have the floor picked out, a vinyl plank in a beachy rustic color.
I've named the van "Van Solo", being a huge Star Wars fan. And funny, the lift that I've chosen is called the Millennium haha! The shipping, and installation will take a few weeks, so meanwhile all I can do is admire my van without driving it. But boy, I'm pinching myself. My dream is coming true!
And Justice seems to very much love his new ride!
We were rushed to the ER and checked out, and I've been recovering at home, in pain in areas I didn't think I could be in pain. Getting into bed and such, transfers are very difficult and painful. I fear that getting into my current car is going to be all but impossible. I'm also afraid to go out wheeling on those streets again!
There were a couple of news stories on it. Channel 10 did a wonderful story just yesterday, that highlighted the impact this has on my life, and how much I really need to get a van. It's picking up a little momentum, but we're still a long ways from even a down payment. I'm really grateful to see so many people who care, and it really lifts my spirits! https://www.10news.com/news/wheelchair-bound-photographer-injured-in-crash?autoplay=true
It's #GivingTuesday tomorrow. I feel if I could just reach a larger audience that could give just a small amount, that it would tip this. I just need two more zeroes on that amount! Maybe less, as I'm just looking to have a reliable vehicle that will last awhile, not new, nothing fancy. Sprinter is my dream. They're awesome for us dog folk. So. Much. Room. A lift wouldn't take up half the interior space in one. Plus, they're one fine piece of German engineering-- just like my dog!
I've been on borrowed time with my shoulders getting wrecked by a decade of hoisting my dead weight into my Element. Then I gotta reach down to take my wheelchair apart, and lift it all in over me. So I go places when its important, and otherwise, it's dog power. My dog is awesome. I have had high hopes of competing in the sport that he was bred for, Schutzhund (IPO now, but I'll always know it as Schutzhund), and Dock Diving. I'm getting to work with some pretty amazing trainers recently, giving me a chance to get further with our competitive career. We have our first two titles! One in each sport. What I desperately need, is to be able to transport my power wheelchair, for training and competing. It makes movement and logistics so much easier, so our training could advance much quicker. When we do compete, having this van would enable us to travel to the competitions...and even have a place to sleep!
I'm a tenaciously independent gal. Not gonna lie, it's been super rough having that restricted, just because I am having a hard time getting into a car. I feel stuck. So much I want to accomplish in life still. I feel this insane urgency since losing my mom, the reality of how short life truly is. I don't like just asking for help. I've created a t-shirt line with my logo, in order to raise more for the van ( https://facebook.com/pg/HeartK9/shop ), have been doing logos, and art commissions when they come my way....but things that are adapted for people with disabilities are expensive. I'm also keeping an eye out for used lifts, and maybe someone to donate putting it on a van. What I need to do is get this seen, and be inspired to chip in a few lattes worth. Or some big celebrity that feels generous! Ha! Matching funds anyone?