Andrew Simpson (15) lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is cared for by his mother, Heather. They also live with Andrew’s great Uncle Jim and their three dogs, Moose, Pearl, and Daisy, in Washington State.
The Simpson family enjoys engaging with their community and attending events that Andrew likes, but a lack of safe and accessible transportation has made it challenging to do so. “It takes difficult transfer maneuvers to transition Andrew from a non-accessible car to his wheelchair and back,” says Heather. The family was planning their weeks far in advance in order to prioritize which appointments or events were worth the difficult transfers.
Heather and Andrew engage with Jett Foundation through awareness days and support groups regularly, but never imagined they would become participants of the Jett Giving Fund. She says, “We watched families reach fundraising goals for their dream accessible vehicle and I never imagined that Andrew and I would be picked to be part of this life-changing program. Now that I look at our dream vehicle parked in the garage, I am so grateful that my friend pushed me to apply to the Accessible Vehicle Fund.”
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.
When Monday, November 13 arrived, Andrew and Heather could not contain their excitement for what was to come that evening. “My stomach was full of butterflies and excitement the entire day as I am sure Andrew’s was too! When I got home from work, Andrew was already ready for me to transfer him to the car. When we first saw the van, there were automatic tears in my eyes and Andrew let me know that the transfer would be the last time that I would need to lift him from the car to his chair. It still does not feel real.”
The Simpson Family was joined by their closest friends and a Jett Foundation team member for a van celebration, as well as three of the women who organized their final fundraising event in order to meet their goal. “Having Meghan from Jett Foundation there made the evening even more special and fun,” says Heather.
“I’ve always wanted to see a van delivery in-person since starting at Jett Foundation,” says Meghan Houston, our Camp Promise Program Director. “As I watched the Simpson family that night, I couldn’t help but think about my love for Camp Promise and the impact that Jett Foundation’s programs have on families each year.”
Meghan also says, “The best part of seeing our Jett Giving Fund families reach their goal each year is not only that they will have safe transportation, but that this was only one of the often multiple interactions we will have with that family throughout the years. Jett Foundation aims to provide Duchenne families with resources for all stages and areas of their lives, and I couldn’t be happier to have assisted with getting this family the van they deserve.”
Before receiving their accessible vehicle, Heather would transfer Andrew to their car, take apart his wheelchair, place it in the vehicle, and put it back together at their destination before lifting him back into the wheelchair and repeating the process when they left. “Now, Andrew is able to participate in after-school activities and we are starting to make appointments for things that he needs. We are so excited to get back into the community to go shopping at Target and local thrift shops,” says Heather.
Heather also shares, “Jett Foundation has shown me that it is okay to ask for help because they are here to support us and our boys through this journey. Without getting out of my comfort zone to apply, I would still be transferring Andrew and potentially hurting myself. So, my biggest advice to other families is to always TRY!”
The Jett Giving Fund program would not be possible without our dedicated partners in the community such as Ryan’s Quest. Founded by David and Maria Schultz when their son, Ryan, was diagnosed with Duchenne, Ryan’s Quest is focused on funding research and finding a cure for Ryan and all who live with Duchenne. “We are proud to support Jett Foundation’s Accessible Vehicle Fund this year and we have seen how this program is changing lives,” says David Schultz. “We want to do our part to help Duchenne families in need.”
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.