Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Change Lives by Providing Independence

TAMPA, Florida (June 28, 2016) – Today, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) announced the three winners of the 2016 National Mobility Awareness Month Local Heroes Contest. The campaign finished with 928 Local Hero online entries that received 1.1 million votes. The sponsors for the wheelchair accessible vehicles are FCA US LLC, Toyota Mobility, and American Honda Motor Corporation, with the conversions donated by Vantage Mobility International (VMI), BraunAbility and ElDorado Mobility.

Each winner received enough votes to get them to the top 10 percent, and then an independent panel of industry experts reviewed the stories to select the Local Heroes who are making a difference for others. The winners are John Rose of Lexington, Kentucky in the senior category, Dave Hastings of Coopersville, Michigan in the caregiver category, and Steve Karmgard of Genoa, Illinois in the open/general category. Afflicted with ALS, Rose retired after a 39-year career as a high school choir teacher in Miami, Florida. Admired and respected by students, Rose started the non-profit “Where Every Child is a Star” that provides summer camp and educational experiences. Now living in Lexington, near family members, the wheelchair accessible vehicle will allow him to attend concerts and continue to be a part of the arts community. Married for 33 years, Hastings is the primary caregiver for his wife Lori who has Muscular Dystrophy. In 2012 Dave was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and forced to retire early. Knowing the hardships medical expenses can have on families, the Hastings founded the non-profit, Lori’s Voice, that raises funds, to assist with medical expenses not covered by insurance for special needs children under the age of 18. Karmgard, injured in a diving accident at the age of 18, has lived his life moving forward by working full time, and also volunteering for the organization Canine Companions as a speaker, and along with his wife recently served as a chairperson raising $90,000 for their local chapter.

“The Local Heroes Contest is a rewarding part of what we do at NMEDA,” said Dave Hubbard, NMEDA CEO. “Each year the awareness for mobility challenges and solutions continues to grow and we thank our members, contest sponsors and the hundreds of communities and thousands of individuals who rallied this year to make this special once again. I also want to personally thank the millions who took the time to read and learn about all of the Local Heroes in our contest and then cast their votes.”

About National Mobility Awareness Month
Each year, May is National Mobility Awareness Month and is the annual celebration that encourages seniors, veterans, caregivers and people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. Founded in 1989 as a not-for-profit trade association, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) supports the awareness month with the assistance of approximately 600 mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers and driver rehabilitation specialists located in the United States and Canada dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities. For updates, please visit MobilityAwarenessMonth.com, as well as Facebook, Twitter (@NMEDAcom) and Pinterest.

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