By Valerie Posthumus
To The Haldimand Press
DUNNVILLE—When communities come together, great things can happen. Such is the case for the Hoto family of Dunnville, who have seen their community rally as parents Gary and Andrea are in dire need of a new wheelchair-accessible van for their son, Brandon, who has cerebral palsy.
The family needs reliable transportation to get Brandon back and forth to appointments and to school at Carlton University in Ottawa. Brandon chose Carlton because they have an Attendant Services Program, which helps students with disabilities with such things as getting dressed and showering.
Their current vehicle, a 2005 Dodge Caravan, has 208,000 km on it and frequently breaks down. They’ve had to replace the transmission and specialized exhaust twice and it has no heat or air conditioning to the back where Brandon sits. Unfortunately, accessible vehicles do not come cheap. Andrea said that one van they are considering will cost $21,000 just to be modified to their needs.
“The only thing we have found is that we can apply for a grant through the March of Dimes and possibly receive up to $15,000 for only the modification,” said Andrea. “There are a lot of rules involved. You still need to have a brand-new van to have the modification done to get the funding; they won’t put a modification on an old vehicle.”