Driving Toward Independence: Jett Foundation Helps 25-year-old with Duchenne Get Behind the Wheel of His Own Vehicle

December 8, 2021

“You’ll never be able to drive.”

“A truck won’t work for you.”

“You will always have to rely on others for help.”

“You’ll never be independent.”

These are just some of the things that people told 25-year-old Tyler Cooley when he expressed his dream of independently driving his own vehicle.

Tyler lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes progressive loss of muscle affecting many parts of the body including skeletal muscles, heart, and lungs. With the disorder’s progression, Tyler has faced multiple bone breaks, undergone numerous surgeries, and persevered through various medical complications.

Through these challenges, Tyler attended college and completed his bachelor’s degree. Just as he was wrapping up his program, he was offered a full-time job on the West Coast. The only problem: he was dependent on someone to accompany him in order to assist with loading his wheelchair and transferring him into the car.

“This whole situation made me realize that now, even more than ever, I needed to stay independent,” says Tyler. “I needed a truck that would allow me to safely transport myself to necessary places, such as my work, without having to rely on someone else.”

To others, driving a vehicle independently with a progressive neuromuscular disorder seemed impossible. But Tyler knew he could do it with the right kind of help. He applied to the Accessible Vehicle Fund, a branch of Jett Foundation’s Jett Giving Fund program for families impacted by Duchenne in need of reliable, safe transportation.

With help from his local community, Larry H. Miller Ford Mesa, 4 Jake’s Sake, friends, and family, Tyler raised half the funds needed for his dream truck–one with modified controls and an accessible driver’s seat. Once he met his goal, Jett Foundation covered the remaining costs, purchasing the accessible truck for him.

“To be told things like ‘you’ll never be able to drive’ and ‘you’ll always have to rely on others for help’ makes this moment even more special.”

“To be told things like ‘you’ll never be able to drive’ and ‘you’ll always have to rely on others for help’ makes this moment even more special,” says Tyler. “Never let someone limit you and show them you can defy all odds. This truck is truly amazing but what it represents is so much greater.”

Since getting his truck, Tyler is driving himself safely to work every day and has even started planning road trips with his family and friends.

“I’ve always believed in miracles and this is truly one of them. Do not ever give up on your hopes and dreams to work hard to get wherever you wanna go,” says Tyler’s mom, Kathi Cooley. “We are SO incredibly thankful for each and every person who made this happen. This is EXACTLY what freedom looks like and his smile says it all. This truck represents so much regained independence.”

“We can’t wait to continue the mission of Jett Foundation and look forward to working with other families in the future to make amazing moments like these happen.”

Established in 2017, Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with over $2.5 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, Sarepta Therapeutics, FibroGen, the Flatley Foundation, and the Killian Family.

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 [email protected].

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