Blessings! Thank you.

Some of you have heard me say a secret is a secret as long as only one person knows it. You know that secrets are hard to keep, especially when they involve good news. Wednesday, June 16, I was home alone and received a phone call. A man’s voice identified himself as David Hubbard of NMEDA and he let me know that I had won one of the vehicles for the contest. Wow, did I really hear that right? When the reality of what he said dawned on me, I was choked up and in tears. I kept thanking him and he calmly repeated that, no, I had earned it and they were proud. I would need to sign a confidentiality agreement and tell no one other than Alan. We also needed to fly to Tampa in a week and a day to meet the sponsors, other winners, and participate in taping the televised segment for the June 30 announcement.

  • “The DayTime Show” – check local listings for the interview [NEW: check under the page “SCI Important Links” for YouTube clips of the TV interviews of winners]
  • check http://wfla.com/category/259807/daytime/
  • check MobilityAwarenessMonth.com.

As directed, I watched for the email with the confidentiality agreement and details. It was six pages of serious, legal language about keeping that secret and other details. Two days later Dave agreed that we could tell our children as long as they understood the importance of the secret. As much as we wanted to thank everyone for their support and votes, we have waited until now.

9,455 votes were a lot of votes from a ton of people along with a lot of correct answers to the daily questions. How can we possibly thank you? WE won, not me! Without all of you, it never would have happened. We have appreciated the help from many for the last 15 very, difficult months. However, for the month of May you ~ our family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, students, ‘parents,’ sailing friends, church partners, and YOUR family and friends really stepped up making a commitment of your personal time to log on and vote. We know there were people in our ‘family home states’ of MI, CA, PA, FL, and The Bay (ok, Chesapeake is not a state other than state of mind it put us in), but we know there were people voting regularly in multiple states and countries around the world. We DO live in a global society don’t we and are intertwined in friendship and support.

We will be receiving a Toyota Sienna modified by BraunAbility. Final modifications will be made by Clock Mobility in Grand Rapids. In Tampa, we had dinner together and were able to meet Dave Hubbard, the gentle man behind the soft voice giving me the good news last week. He explained the process. You know that your votes moved the top 10% of vote getters into the semi-finalist round. At that point these people were turned over to an outside panel who judged them strictly on their merit (not votes) based on several criteria NMEDA set to determine local heroes. We met the other winners and I read their stories afterwards in the airport. I encourage you to do so as well. The other three are amazing people who will impress you with what they faced but are now doing. You will feel uplifted by reading about them. They are the types of people you would want to call your friend.

We met Cheryl and Donna who made sure every detail of the trip and taping went well. We met Brian from BraunAbility who explained to us about the special vehicles. Braun takes the Toyota (ours!) and makes major renovations beginning with lowering the floor, removing the center row, and removing the consul between the front seats. The floor is lowered so a ramp is usable but replacement parts as well as logos integrate well with the Toyota parts and look. Brian explained that founder Mr. Braun built the company to meet his own needs (MS for 50 years). He wanted the vehicle to look like a regular Toyota, Honda, or Chrysler so no one would easily spot it as one carrying a person with a disability. He felt the vehicle should be easy enough to use that the disabled could go out for ice cream at 8 PM if they felt like ice cream. We met Mike who represented Toyota who you will also see pictured in the TV segment. We met Andrew from the local Ride-Away dealership that provided the 3 of the 4 vehicles being donated to serve as backdrop for the TV taping. Brian and Andrew proudly explained and demonstrated the various features in this vehicle and explained to Alan and myself the various options available as well as which would likely be best for our situation. We met Ralph, the man behind the new Chairiot solo, who explained how his company began and how it so uniquely offers those in wheelchairs an economical way to get about town. We met Cyndi, hostess of DayTime, who did her job seamlessly and warmly set us at ease. During the dinner and the taping experience, it struck me how passionate all these people were about what they do. They treated us with such respect and knew that what they do day-to-day makes a difference in our lives by making at least this easier. We add these good folks to our list of those to thank because their generous donations make it all possible.

Words are not enough but they’re all we seem to have. We do remember, though, what out sons have heard for years. We have been blessed to be a blessing.

THANK YOU MOST SINCERELY, Collene & Alan

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan Holst
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 09:28:51

    I am so honored to have been a small part of your journey Collene. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to share in it. Congratulations and enjoy your new ride.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Carol Trihy
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 09:29:12

    Thrilled to hear the news! What an incredible experience.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Eunice Bossenbrook
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 09:31:01

    This is wonderful news!! I always wonder if someone really wins these huge prizes and now I know that this one is legit! So excited for you and happy to know I played a small part in making it happen. Blessings abound! Eunice

    Like

    Reply

  4. kophoff
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 09:33:51

    Congratulations, Collene!!! This is such good news. I just know that God will use this new development for great purpose for your life! The plan unfolds….

    Like

    Reply

  5. Carol Ketterer
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 09:55:21

    Congratulations, Collene! Oh, the places you’ll go!

    Like

    Reply

  6. Judie Ver Meulen
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:17:21

    Congratulations, Collene!! Your world has just become oh so much larger!
    Praise the Lord! Judie

    Like

    Reply

  7. Nancy Sheets
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:23:53

    Yay, Collene!! Wonderful news. As always, thank you for such inspiring blog posts.

    Like

    Reply

  8. Donna Seney
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:26:19

    Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so proud of you!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    Reply

  9. Donna Seney
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:29:04

    Yeah!!!!!!! I am so proud of you.

    Like

    Reply

  10. Pat and Gary Sprunger
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 12:08:57

    We are thrilled for you! What support you have!

    Like

    Reply

  11. Maureen
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 18:18:26

    Wow that is wonderful congratulations to you both. Looking forward to seeing you riding in style in Naples.

    Tom and Maureen Nyhan

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    Reply

  12. Eloise L. Mackus
    Jul 07, 2015 @ 23:08:57

    I was just now able to download the link that Gwen was able to find last weekend. The reception up there is not the greatest, so I was finally able to see the interview tonight. You were beautiful and eloquent. A blessing. It was so great to see you again. Looking forward to a ride!

    Love, Elly

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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