Now 18, Johnny was injured from birth, and he’s been living in a group home since he was 5. He was the only family member missing from all of the holiday photos, because there just wasn’t any way to transport him to and from family gatherings. Until this past year, when the Boutin family purchased a Town & Country wheelchair accessible van that Bussani Mobility Team custom-fitted for Johnny’s needs.
To make the holiday even sweeter, one of Johnny’s brothers had just returned from serving as a Marine in Afghanistan, and his other brother was to be deployed into the Army in March. This year, all the brothers, his sister, parents and grandparents were especially joyous.
His mom Laurie Boutin, said:
Finally, my parents have a holiday picture with all of their grandchildren in it. We hadn’t been all together with the whole family on Christmas since Johnny was 4 ½ years old.
Having the wheelchair accessible van changed everyday life for the Boutins, as well. Before, when Johnny would have to go to the hospital, the family had to call an ambulance because of his trach tube. Sometimes, they would wait up to three hours for another ambulance to return him home.
“That would never happen now,” commented Laurie.
I can take him wherever he needs to go. My influence is so much bigger again in his life. And when Johnny gets to travel, he loves it. He smiles from ear to ear – and he’s mobile! Sometimes we go to a nearby park and stroll around. That was never an option before. We get to explore together, and it’s opened up a whole new world for him and for us.
Laurie’s advice to people with physical disabilities or those caring for them:
If there’s any way possible that you can get a wheelchair accessible van, do it. It will increase your independence.