surprise

Family surprised with accessible van

 

 

Dan deWaal sits in his new accessible van that was purchased by friends Jason and Kim Laframboise.

Dan deWaal sits in his new accessible van that was purchased by friends Jason and Kim Laframboise.

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Christmas came early this year for Tracy and Dan deWaal, who received a gift that has left them shocked, humbled and overwhelmed with generosity.

The deWaal family was surprised with a new accessible van on Dec. 1, courtesy of their good friends Jason and Kim Laframboise. Jason and Kim had been asking their families for donations to purchase a new vehicle for Dan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2000. The wheelchair-accessible van the deWaal family had been using since Dan’s diagnosis was on its “last leg” and in dire need of major repairs.

“The van lasted us as long as it could. It had a ton of miles on it and was constantly in need of repair,” said Tracy, who said her kids jokingly referred to the old van as the “bucket of bolts.”

“We just kept patching and patching it because we still don’t know how long we’re going to need the van for, because we can’t determine the disease.”

According to Tracy, the final major repair prompted Jason to begin thinking about replacing the van. He began emailing members of his and Kim’s families for help and searching across Southwestern Ontario to find an accessible ride for Dan, eventually finding one in London.

“Kim and I have always admired Dan and Tracy for getting to all of the kids’ events and having a positive attitude through all the hard times they’ve been through without complaining to anyone,” Jason said.

On the day of the surprise, Kim spoke with Tracy’s sister to get her out of work. When people began arriving at the deWaals’ home the family knew there would be a surprise, but didn’t know to what extent.

“Even when the van pulled into the driveway with bows all over it we didn’t think it was the van. We thought there was something in the van,” said Tracy laughing. “There aren’t even words to explain it.”

The deWaal family was recently surprised by a new, accessible van thanks to the generosity of friends Jason and Kim Laframboise.

The deWaal family was recently surprised by a new, accessible van thanks to the generosity of friends Jason and Kim Laframboise.

The new van will make it considerably easier for Dan to get to their children’s sporting events without worrying about whether or not the vehicle will make it home.

“There were numerous times where we were stranded somewhere. We don’t need to worry about that anymore,” said Tracy. The new vehicle will also help out the family financially, as they won’t have to constantly patch and repair their means of transportation anymore.

Since Dan’s diagnosis Tracy said people are always trying to help out and make their lives easier in any way they can. The generosity from Kim, Jason and their respective families has left them thankful and grateful beyond words.

“We’re so lucky to have them as friends and in our lives. We don’t know what we’d do without them.”