On May 8, 1999, everything in my life changed. I was a passenger in a new Cadillac STS. The driver decided to show off this sports sedan’s cornering capabilities down a winding lake road, which resulted in a roll over collision that shattered my C6 and C7 vertebra and completely cut my spinal cord. I woke up in the hospital while they were screwing a halo into my skull and was immediately given the news that I was paralyzed. I asked if I was a para or quad and if it was permanent. The doctor told me that I was a quad and that my cord was completely severed with no chance of rehabilitation. Needless to say, it was a lot to process.
As I lay there, trapped in a body that would not move, my thoughts were all about what life would be like as a quadriplegic. To say that I was a sportsman prior to this accident was a huge understatement. My whole life revolved around my physical presence and all that was about to change. I have a strong Christian faith and I never asked God why me, but rather what is your plan for me now?
After 2 weeks in intensive care, I was moved to a rehab hospital where I spent the next 12 weeks learning how to cope with my new limitations. I quickly found out that life as a quadriplegic is difficult, both physically and mentally. Prior to that accident, I had prided myself on my independent nature, and now I needed my 5 year old boy or 8 year old girl to help me with simple tasks like opening a door.
Once I was sent home, it didn’t take long to realize that this world is not made for people in wheelchairs. We need custom wheelchairs, ramps, door openers, roll in showers and special vehicles. As I began acquiring these new life essentials, I quickly learned that when it came to wheelchair conversion vehicles, my only option was to buy a van. After years of being an avid sportsman, I wasn’t ready to trade in my SUV for a mini-van. Instead, I forced my wife to help me transfer into my SUV for the next 6 months. I worked extra hours in the weight room hoping to gain enough strength to transfer on my own, but it just wasn’t happening. Eventually, my wife had had enough and I traded in my SUV for a wheelchair conversion van.
After 8 years of driving my minivan, it was falling apart and needed to be replaced. I started shopping around, but just couldn’t bring myself to buy another minivan. That is when I called an engineer friend of mine and said, “You have to help me get in a truck.” I told him if we could figure this out, most everyone would want one. He started asking me questions and taking measurements. We kicked around ideas and came to an agreement on the design and recruited a couple more friends to help. Within a couple months we had completed the truck.
The first day I was able to drive my new truck, I couldn’t stop smiling and I felt like I had gotten a piece of myself back. Since then, I have used my truck to haul things, help a friend move, tow a trailer and plow through 2 feet of snow to pull someone out of a ditch. It feels good to be able to help myself and others. God revealed his plan and I now know that with every truck and SUV we deliver, we are giving something back to someone that has been dealt a tough hand.
Several designs, tweaks and improvements have occurred since that first build, 5 years ago. Our purpose is to build the best quality conversion on the market and we back it with a 3yr/36,000 mile warranty that is top in the industry. I want to personally invite you to enjoy your ride with an ATC converted vehicle!