National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:

Donya Brown

Metairie, LA

Entry Photo for Sigrid Cochran - Metairie, LA

In 1970 my sister, Donya Brown was hit by a drunk driver in a pickup truck. He fled, fearing what would become of him since he had hit and killed another pedestrian just two years before. Donya was a pedestrian too. That wreck took her left leg above the knee so she had to rely on crutches and finally wheelchairs. Ten years later she married. In 1988 she was advised to move a day’s drive away to Tennessee to escape the physical cruelty of her husband. When she arrived in TN she met and fell in love with international students and scholars who worked and studied at the University of Tennessee. Their needs were many so she became a volunteer: She taught them English; brought them to doctor’s appointments; took them shopping for groceries; took them sightseeing out of state during school breaks. She even taught them how to shop for used vehicles and then taught them how to drive. The list is nearly endless on all she did and still does for them. Some come from abroad looking for Donya. Some who have relocated call her, for a mini English lesson on the phone.

After four years of serving students Donya’s pastor encouraged her to incorporate and file for tax exemption allowing her to receive a salary accompanying her Social Security. She followed his advice accepting only $200 monthly.

Donya’s primary need for 46 years has been a wheelchair accessible minivan. She finally spent her father’s $8,000 inheritance to buy an old van to help her with her work. That van is falling apart and she doesn’t have the financial means to buy a better van. Now, she fears she will no longer be able to serve her students and will become a shut-in with no way to help others or even herself.

Donya is a disabled senior, 69 years old. Please, help her with one of those wonderful vans you have to give. Thank you for taking time to read my message. Sigrid Cochran.

Something my sister didn’t share with you is that after 28 years I want to return home, to New Orleans LA and establish my work there. I can’t work and be independent without a vehicle that’s wheelchair accessible. Thank you for giving me and others an opportunity to share our stories and for providing three people with a chance to win a van. Donya