Lauren and John Fritz are parents to Ryan (16) and Jake (19) who live with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The Pennsylvania family enjoys playing with their pets (two cats, two dogs, and one lizard), cooking, gardening, and hanging out on their porch with friends.
The Fritz family has experienced an increase in challenges, particularly in transporting their boys, as Jake and Ryan grow and become less ambulatory.
Lauren says, “We were attempting to lift and transfer Ryan, who is a full-sized young adult, to the back bench of our old van since it was only equipped for one wheelchair. There were several times that Ryan, my husband, or myself were injured in this process. It became impossible for us to travel safely together as a family.”
The family has connected with Jett Foundation previously through Camp Promise and various programs that Jett Foundation offers, but decided to apply to the Jett Giving Fund when Ryan transitioned to a wheelchair full time and their used vehicle became unsuitable.
Jett Foundation’s Jett Giving Fund offers families financial assistance through two main branches of support: The Accessible Vehicle Fund helps families obtain safe, accessible transportation; families raise half the funds needed or more for their vehicle and Jett Foundation covers the remaining costs. The Emergency Fund provides grants to families facing unexpected, emergency situations.
On December 13, 2022, the Fritz family received their new vehicle that is both safe and accessible for Ryan and Jake’s wheelchairs, allowing the family to once again travel as a unit. To Lauren, the delivery of their van was a metaphor for life with Duchenne: both include challenges and patience, but there is an abundance of joy that comes with it.
She also shares, “The greatest thing that this van has brought us is peace of mind. You don’t realize how much Duchenne takes away from the things most of us take for granted. This van restores the ability to attend the clinic together or consider in-person college as opposed to virtual.”
The Fritz family is one of ten participant families in Jett Foundation’s 2022 Accessible Vehicle Fund branch of the Jett Giving Fund program. Applications for the 2023 Accessible Vehicle Fund opened on January 4, 2023 and are available on our website until February 17, 2023 at 5PM EST. To view our December 2022 webinar that covers the application process and eligibility requirements, visit our YouTube channel here.
For other families in the Duchenne community, Lauren shares: “There are many helpful people that have your back when you are attempting to secure something that is so fundamental to your family, such as an accessible vehicle. Our new van is not only a gain for the four of us, but for our entire community to be exposed to this resource. Jett Foundation and many others work hard to improve our lives and understand that what may seem small can actually make a major difference for your family.”
The Jett Giving Fund program would not be possible without our dedicated and generous partners in the community such as Michael’s Cause, founded by parents Rob and Theresa Capolongo in honor of their son, Michael. “On behalf of our son Michael and Michael’s Cause, we are happy to be a part of helping the Fritz family obtain their accessible van,” says Robert Capolongo.
Established in 2017, the Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with over $3.5 million worth of accessible equipment and emergency assistance thanks to the generous support of individual donors, local communities, and major sponsors including Cure Dale’s Duchenne, Fibrogen, the Flatley Foundation, the Killian Family, Michael’s Cause, Ryan’s Quest, and Sarepta Therapeutics.
You can help us to support more families through the two branches of Jett Giving Fund: the Accessible Vehicle Fund and the Emergency Fund. Donate today or learn more about becoming a sponsor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know is in need of support or would like more information on our Jett Giving Fund, please visit jettfoundation.org/giving-fund.