Jett Foundation Gifts Florida Family Accessible Van

Congratulations to the Bender family in Clermont, FL on receiving an accessible van through our Jett Giving Fund! Caleb, 17-years-old, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was 7 and now uses a wheelchair full-time. He lives with his father, Chris, his mother Heather, and sister, Hannah who is 12-years-old.

The Bender family secured one of the largest power chairs for their son, one that allowed him to rise up to eye-level or be in a standing position. But, with that came one huge obstacle. They were unable to transfer it and needed a safe and accessible van. As Caleb got older, it became a lot harder to transfer him and his power chair. Without safe transportation, the family found it difficult to leave their home; they didn’t get to go on as many trips as they would have liked and struggled to do everyday activities.

With the help of Jett Foundation, the family’s new accessible van gives them the ability to transport Caleb’s power chair, which on its own weighs 440 pounds!

“This was more than just a vehicle for him. It was freedom to an extent,” Chris exclaims. The new van has increased opportunities for what Caleb can do in the future and gives him the chance to explore who he is as a person. Now the family can continue doing all the things that they love to do such as going to see family in St. Louis or going to the beach. It has truly opened up options that they didn’t have before, due to lack of equipment.

At first, the Bender family took on the large task of raising money for their new accessible van on their own, but it wasn’t easy. When they heard of Jett Foundation’s Jett Giving Fund, their hopes turned around, and they were able to take some of that weight off their shoulders. When Chris and his wife, Heather, found out they were approved they were so relieved and happy at the thought of giving Caleb a slight sense of normalcy.

“We stand for our son. We stand strong. We will never surrender,” says Chris.

We stand for our son. We stand strong. We will never surrender.

— Chris

Jett Giving Fund’s Accessible Vehicle Fund is a financial assistance program to support families impacted by Duchenne, and assist them in raising funds for accessible vehicles. Families raise half the funds needed for the cost of the equipment or more, and Jett Foundation covers the remaining cost for families accepted into the program. The Bender family’s vehicle totalled nearly $67,000.

The Bender family put their faith into the hands of their church family, friends, and community who all stepped up to help them during these difficult times in order to raise the funds needed to meet their goal. The family expected it to take at least a year to raise the money they needed but with all the generosity they encountered it only took a few months.

“God put these people in our life and they have become our family and friends, supporting us,” Chris says.

Chris mentioned how being able to now transport the powered wheelchair in their new van has given them the freedom to do fun activities again, like go to the zoo. When they used to go to the zoo, Caleb would have to lean left and right to try to look through the metal bars. But now that he is able to bring his powered wheelchair everywhere with him, he can raise himself up and see what everyone else can see. He can’t wait to go back to school and themed parks.

Chris encourages families who are applying to Jett Giving Fund, or for those in the program still fundraising, to reach out to your core – no matter who that may be. Reach out to family, church, people you grew up with, or people you work with. “Humble yourself and put yourself in their hands.” Chris continues, “Don’t give up hope. There is always light right around the corner. When you don’t expect it, that’s when it is going to happen.”

You can help us to support more families through the Jett Giving Fund. Donate today or learn more about becoming a sponsor by emailing maura@jettfoundation.org.

Established in 2017, Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with over $1.7 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, and the Flatley Foundation.