Original Article by Jeff Bahr Grand Island Independent (May 7th, 2021)
Pictured is Sam Rutten in his new van with Todd Vetter who made this all possible. Mark Zach of Mobility for Humanity made this statement about the photo: "This to me tells it all. If it wasn't for the Vetter's generosity, and Todd being at the Runza Hut, you never would have met. You know the Lord had a hand in this deal."
Sam Rutten has been paralyzed from the chest down due to an accident that occurred a few days before his 60th birthday nine years ago in February, 2012. He had been riding his mule, Jute, when the mule walked under a tree branch, brushing him off onto the ground. This was not unusual except that he landed wrong and was left with a neck injury that kept him hospitalized for several weeks and then as a patient in Madonna Rehab for several months. Rutten has been confined to a wheelchair ever since which is quite a change for someone who previously had been very active.
Rutten purchased a 2007 Dodge Caravan that was set up for handicap entrance on the side so that he could be transported to his many doctor visits. It originally had a side ramp that would automatically lower and raise. The van was used to take Sam to his many doctor appointments as well as on any outings and to visit family. Over the years of use the ramp quit working and was removed. Home-made ramps that had to be pulled out and put back in were used instead. These were rather heavy and awkward. The side door was hard to open as well. The vehicle was wearing out and had over 168,000 miles on it!
Janet Moody, Sam's caregiver/girlfriend, had taken Sam to an appointment in Grand Island and they were on their way home when they stopped at the Runza in St. Paul. While she was moving the ramps to help Sam enter the van, a person approached them to visit about the possibility of a' newer van with A working ramp. Todd Vetter then told them about Mobility For Humanity and a program to help find handicap accessible vehicles for those who need them. He said he would add their name to the waiting list.
Several months later, as they were beginning to look for a replacement van, Rutten received a phone call from Mark Zach, President of Mobility for Humanity, about a van that he had available for them if they could show proof that they could afford the licensing and insurance for it. A time was set up for them to get together back in St. Paul, NE, to receive a newer replacement van.
On Thursday, April 22, 2021, Sam Rutten and Janet Moody made the drive to St. Paul to meet with Mark Zach and Todd Vetter at Brookefield Park, a Vetter Senior Living location. Zach presented a 2011 Dodge Caravan with rear entry ramp to Rutten as a needs. Zach then ed gift to help meet his transportation Rutten on how to ucated Moody and Properly strap the wheelchair in and stressed the need to do this whether going two blocks or several miles. He also went over other features of the van.
The new van was one that was donated to Mobility for Humanity by Vetter Senior Living after an upgrade to a new van for transportation of their residents. Vetter Senior Living upgrades vehicles as needed. Some are used as trade-ins and some are donated to this worthwhile cause of helping provide mobility transportation for individuals with disabilities as part of their mission to provide "Dignity in Life."
The 2011 Caravan still has many good miles left for Rutten and Moody to be able to travel to and from Grand Island and Omaha for doctor and dental appointments, at least 25,000 less miles than the old van! Rutten is a Vietnam Veteran so travels to the Grand Island VA site often.
Mark Zach worked for Mobility Motoring in Omaha for many years.' The company has helped customers with innovative mobility solutions for over 25 years and has realized that no two situations are ever alike when dealing with the special needs of handicapped customers. Zach then created the non-profit Mobility For Humanity in 2011 to be able to help more individuals with disabilities who were in need of mobility transportation. Vehicles are provided to deserving individuals/families through the generous donations of others. Every individual is assessed to ensure the correct vehicle is found that will meet their special transportation requirements. All donated vehicles are gone through and brought up to prime running condition before offered to someone in need. Donations of funds/ vehicles can be made by visiting the site at MobilityForHumanity.org.