National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:

Jessica LePes

Sparta, IL

Entry Photo for Jessica LePes - Sparta, IL

My local hero is Jessica LePes. Jessica was 14 when she suffered another migraine headache that led to convulsions. She became unconscious and was in Children’s Hospital for three months. Jessica lost many of her motor skill functions and is now a paraplegic.
With rehabilitation, Jessica was able to use her right hand and take steps in a walker. But without a wheelchair van, she could no longer go to physical therapy and could only do home exercises. Without the use of professional equipment, Jessica regressed and became depressed because she could not travel much and could only occasionally fish, which she loved to do.

Before becoming wheelchair-bound, Jessica entered horse events and loved riding, brushing, bathing, feeding and caring for her beloved horse, Eva. After the convulsions that led to her condition, Jessica still enjoyed feeding and hugging Eva until Eva died of old age. Jessica mourned for a long time.

Jessica is now 26 and loves listening to music and visiting family. With a wheelchair van, Jessica could resume physical therapy and get a chance to enjoy social outings such as concerts, parades, rodeos, and ballgames. It would be so much fun for her and her family, and everyone would benefit from seeing Jessica laugh and giggle.

Jessica is bed-ridden or stays in her reclined wheelchair most of the time. She only weighs 115 pounds, but that is dead weight for her mother, Debbie LePes, who has to lift Jessica in and out of bed, in and out of her wheelchair, and in and out of their 2005 Honda minivan.
Debbie is also suffering from U joints separating in her hips, so she needs to wear a U-belt. The condition has been caused by excessive lifting. With a new wheelchair van, it would enable Debbie to take Jessica to doctor, hospital and dental visits without breaking her back or making her hip condition worse.

A wheelchair van would also allow Jessica to attend family and holiday gatherings, and she would bring joy to all her little cousins. They would learn how to cope with Jessica in her wheelchair, visit with her more often and laugh with her. Jessica would be teaching them how to react to other disabled people in wheelchairs and converse with them in an acceptable manner. Not only would a wheelchair van benefit Jessica, but it would also have a profound effect on others.