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$31K raised to replace specialty van

In 2013, a local woman’s wheelchair-accessible van was struck, destroying its wheelchair lift.

Denyse Miele, a North Central Sight Services employee, was left with a challenge. As a woman who became quadriplegic after a serious accident in 1995, how was she supposed to travel around town, to her place of work and to home without her wheelchair accessible van?

Miele had the van fixed a multitude of times in various different locations, but the van never worked the same.

“They thought they could fix it here, downtown, to rebuild it, but it did not work and it did not last,” she said. “There is a lot involved in it. It was never fixed the correct way.”

She took to Facebook and set up a 56-day fundraiser with the goal of raising $30,000, not knowing that she would inevitably end up raising $31,000 to cover part of the van’s costs.

“I never in my life would have imagined raising that much,” she said. “Especially during this time, it is so uncertain.”

The new wheelchair accessible Honda Odyssey was approximately $46,000 with an additional $54,000 for adaptations including hand controls, which will be covered for by the state Office for Vocational Rehabilitation.

For other costs she might have, she added that because this is an accessibility van, she should be able to finance.

Right now, her process of obtaining her van is at a standstill.

Miele is still in recovery from a recent surgery and the timeline is still unknown as to when she will be able to sit up comfortably.

In addition, the company in Harrisburg that is working on her vehicle had taken her motorized wheelchair to install bolts to exact measurements so when she takes her wheelchair into her van, it will lock into place.

“This is so much easier than just transferring in a car,” she said. “They (the company) will modify the van to make sure that my chair fits in the right spot and where the hand controls are.”

She added that part of the controls also include reduced effort steering which will make it easier to steer when driving.

“I have learned so many lessons from this,” she added. “It’s an insane amount of people that need these vans for people who have different abilities.”

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