Chasing Smiles In A New Van

AJ's van-collage

Despite having Duchenne muscular dystrophy, AJ Wise has one of those “melt your heart” smiles. He loves to discuss animals and racing, and enjoys fishing and spending time with his family. AJ’s smiles became less frequent as his disease robbed him of the use of his legs. This meant that his parents can no longer load him in and out of the family’s aging van without significant back strain. AJ, who is 14 years old, was confined to his home.

Last fall, a team of people who care about AJ began trying to raise money for a new mobility vehicle for the family. Victory Lane Camp spearheaded the fundraiser. The Whitewater Valley Motorcycle Club joined the effort, raising funds toward the cause. As AJ’s condition deteriorated, multiple anonymous donors worked with Victory Lane Camp to add to all fundraising efforts. The down payment of $20,000 is now covered. The family will make monthly payments for the vehicle.

Smiles were abundant on Friday, as the Wise family picked up their van at Superior Van and Mobility in Indianapolis. The vehicle is a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan with a manual rear-entry bi-fold wheelchair ramp. According to Dawn McCool of Superior Van and Mobility, converting pre-owned vehicles for mobility is relatively new to the industry. However, this option made the vehicle more manageable financially for the Wise family. AJ’s vehicle underwent a 416-point inspection and has a warranty.

“When I asked AJ what he thought about getting this new van, he said ‘Mommy, I’m so glad that it won’t hurt you getting me in and out of the van anymore,’” Taby Wise shared. “I am so very grateful to everyone that has been involved with making this happen.”

Before taking the van home, the staff at Superior Van and Mobility conducted fittings to make sure AJ’s chair would be secure and provided a general orientation to the vehicle. Brett Fischer, Victory Lane Camp Founder, and Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director, accompanied the family as they picked up the van.

“Seeing the Victory Lane Community in action is such a blessing,” Brett expressed. “Coming alongside the Wise family is just one way Victory Lane is saying ‘you are not alone.’”

Read more about AJ and his family.