Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, in late May 2015 we were finally able to fulfil our dream to put Ben in the front seat of his own modified van.
Stage One: Ben in the front seat
Twelve months after the VW multivan was ordered from Germany, Ben’s new wheels arrived in port in December 2014. Max then drove the van from Sydney down to Dandenong, Victoria, to undergo extensive modification for Ben to be able to use it as a passenger.
Somehow, nothing ever goes smoothly. The three month modification process took six months with a number of setbacks. There are still some minor issues to resolve, however the good news is Ben has been using the van since the end of May.
Ben’s vehicle has already made a huge difference to his quality of life. He no longer has to endure long waits for a Maxi Taxi. As a result of his spinal injury, Ben feels variances in temperature much more severely than most of us. Waiting in the winter cold and rain for a taxi impacts on his health. The van allows Ben to travel long distances or in peak hour traffic without the anxiety of an expensive taxi fare.
Stage two: Ben behind the wheel
Ben loves cars. The Ben Lipski Foundation is now working towards the ultimate dream of Ben being able to drive his own van. Driving independently will be a huge boost to Ben, giving him more of the independence, flexibility and freedom we all take so much for granted.
How is it possible for Ben to drive?
First, Ben needs to undergo assessments. He needs to demonstrate he can control the vehicle safely, comfortably and predictably. We need to determine what driver modifications will be needed for this dream to become a reality.
Second, the van will need be modified. We will likely use Problem Management Engineering (PME), specialists in the field of customising vehicles, to perform the work needed.
To our surprise, a preliminary assessment indicated that the driver modifications required for Ben would cost approximately $110,000. The high technology components are sourced from suppliers in the US, Israel and parts of Europe.
We are planning another fundraiser, details to be advised. Despite the wonderful success of the October 2013 fundraiser, it would be unrealistic to expect that we could raise anywhere near the amount needed to finance driver modifications. For this reason, we would be grateful if you could review the attractive items still for sale on our website and make an offer.
Also, with the financial year end fast approaching, please remember any donation over $2 to the Ben Lipski Foundation is tax deductible.
Your support and kind contributions are very much appreciated.