Local Hero Celebrations
After being announced as the Local Hero Winners for National Mobility Awareness Month, Ken Davert, Ron Miner and Alberto Cruz were each awarded a customized Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle with family, friends, sponsors and the media there to help celebrate.
On July 19 at MobilityWorks in Saginaw, MI, the Davert family was presented their “White Lightning,” the name they bestowed on their 2012 25th Anniversary VMI Limited Edition Honda Odyssey with Northstar conversion. During National Mobility Awareness Month, the Davert family won over thousands of hearts in their community, which was evident by their continued support at the event.
I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) – a brittle bone condition, and I stand only 2 feet 10 inches tall. I have incurred over 200 fractures. I have a wonderful husband, Ken (who has Cerebral Palsy), and we are parents of twins, Austin and Michaela. They also have OI and are 13 years old. Through their positive outlook and their incredible self-determination, our children provide inspiration to us and to those around them.
Michaela is in 8th grade and an honor roll student. She hopes to one day open up her own pastry business. For the past three years, Michaela was the top cookie seller in her Girl Scout troop. This year, she sold an amazing 901 boxes of cookies!
Austin is in 8th grade A/B student. He enjoys surfing the net and flight simulators. His passion is flying. He has had the opportunity to actually fly plane his friend equipped with a special control stick. He plays the drums.
I am a life-long advocate for people with disabilities. I’ve served on numerous councils and boards promoting the rights of people with disabilities. I am a contributing author to two national disability publications, have testified on behalf of people with disabilities at state senate and house appropriation committees, and have appeared as a guest on numerous local radio and television programs to promote inclusion and independence for people with disabilities. Due to my health condition, in January of 2006, I left my job as Executive Director for the Center for Independent Living of Mid-Michigan and am now devoting more time to my family.
Because all four of us have significant disabilities and three of us rely on power chairs, dependable transportation is essential. I drive a Chrysler 1998 minivan and Ken drives a 1998 Dodge full-size van. Both vehicles are wheelchair accessible, but they are over 13 years old, in excess of 130,000 miles and are becoming increasingly unreliable due to age and rust condition. My vehicle has had ongoing battery charge problems that cannot be repaired, causing me to be stranded on numerous occasions. Once, I had to use my power wheelchair to push it out of the garage, so Ken could jump-start it! Rust has become so bad on Ken’s car that it has created hole through the floor. A new vehicle would enable our family to continue to remain independent and active participants in our community.
After winning four medals at the 2012 Wheelchair Veteran Games, Ron Miner was awarded a 2012 Toyota Sienna BraunAbility Rampvan at Continental Toyota of Hodgkins, IL on August 28. Ron will be able to use his physical abilities to give back to his community and continue changing lives through coaching.
I am a disabled Army Veteran who was injured on active duty while serving my country. As I aged, my disabilities and limited mobility got the best of me, leading to divorce, separation from my children, and the loss of my job. I gained a lot of weight, and fell into depression. My health was deteriorating and I had no love, no hope, and a lack of focus for a future. I had hit bottom and did not like who I had become: a fat disabled man in a wheelchair, which was not how I wanted people to view me, especially my children.
My brother told me about a Wheelchair Bodybuilding competition. I contacted the organization and decided that I would try to do this as I had grown out of my fat pants. I purchased books on diet, got a gym membership, and went to work. While that may sound simple, it was not. Being in a wheelchair with spinal cord troubles and other disabilities creates obstacles as well as mobility challenges. You cannot just go into any gym and lift weights like an able-bodied person.
I had to figure out how I could modify workouts so that I could overcome the challenges to build muscle and lose fat without further injury. It did take time, a lot of studying, and modification of workout plans. I am still altering things and making improvements. It is a lot of trial and error when you are forging new ground. There is not much information about training with multiple disabilities especially from a wheelchair.
In time, with plenty of training, hard work, clean diet, and the proper mindset I overcame my mobility challenges to become the Wheelchair Bodybuilding World Champion and the winner of numerous Gold medals at National Veterans Wheelchair Games. No longer am I the fat man in a wheelchair with no hope, no future, and poor health. I’m now a role model for those with and without disabilities.
I now use what I have learned to coach others in Wheelchair Sports and life. I have also used my healthy winning image to promote Veteran’s causes and have worked with my U.S. Senator, and members of Congress to get Veteran’s issues passed in the United States Congress and signed into law by the President. I can now look back and see the challenges I overcame with pride.
Alberto Cruz and his family received a 2012 Chrysler Dodge Caravan BraunAbility rear-entry van at Windham High School with teachers, students and supporters by his side. The high school cheerleaders escorted the new van to the Cruz family for its official unveiling followed by an ice cream social in honor of the hope Alberto has inspired in his community.
Thank you to our sponsors Chrysler, Toyota, BraunAbility, VMI, SanTan Honda and everyone who voted and participated in National Mobility Awareness Month in 2012.