NMEDA Announces Winners of Local Heroes Program

More than 1,700 people shared their stories of overcoming disabilities, and 1.2 million votes were cast in the National Mobility Awareness Month Local Heroes contest in May. But only three could win the grand prize of a fully converted wheelchair-accessible van.

Alberto Cruz, of Willimantic, Conn., Ken Davert, of Bay City, Mich., and Ron Miner, of Frankfort, Ill., will receive their vans later this summer. The vehicles, which were provided by Toyota, SanTan Honda in Chandler, Ariz., and Chrysler, are now being modified by BraunAbility and Vantage Mobility International.

“We are humbled by the response to the National Mobility Awareness Month Local Heroes program,” said Dave Hubbard, executive director and CEO for the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), which started the awareness month. “This enthusiasm clearly illustrates the need for custom-built transportation, and it is our commitment to advance the awareness monthʼs efforts in the future with the generous support of the membership, sponsors and public officials.”

The response to National Mobility Awareness Month has not gone unnoticed in Washington, D.C. Already representatives have submitted a resolution to designate May as National Mobility Awareness Month.

Meet the winners:

  • Alberto Cruz – After becoming paralyzed in a surfing accident last summer, the 15-year-old endured grueling therapy sessions but chose to stay in school. His teacher, Lynn Frazier, nominated him as a Local Hero because “Heroes attract other heroes. Albertoʼs courage touched something deep inside my students and their families.”
  • Ken Davert – Davert, who has cerebral palsy, also contends with his family’s osteogenesis imperfecta (a brittle bone condition). His wife and their 13 year-old twins have the condition, yet the entire family is active in their community.
  • Ron Miner – A U.S. Army veteran injured during active duty, Miner was depressed until stumbling into wheelchair bodybuilding. He is now a Wheelchair Bodybuilding Champion and has won numerous gold medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Want to know more? Read the winning stories here.