Newlywed Paralyzed in Tragic Accident Gains New Lease on Life

Newlywed Paralyzed in Tragic Accident Gains New Lease on Life

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BraunAbility, Toyota Surprise Rachelle Friedman with Mobility Vehicle Donation

Click here to watch video reveal

RALEIGH, NC – July 22, 2011 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and The Braun Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans and wheelchair lifts, today announced the surprise wedding day donation of a brand new 2011 Toyota Sienna with a BraunAbility Rampvan® XT conversion to Rachelle Friedman, who was paralyzed as a result of a tragic accident during her bachelorette party in May 2010.

BraunAbility and local mobility dealer Van Products Inc. had loaned 23-year-old Rachelle and her fiancé Chris Chapman a BraunAbility Sienna Rampvan® while they planned their wedding. Unbeknownst to them, plans were in the works for the ultimate surprise: the donation of a mobility vehicle to the couple as a wedding gift they could use for years to come. 

“Rachelle’s resolve and strength are truly inspirational,” said Nick Gutwein, President of Braun. “We were so moved by her story that we wanted to help her not only while she planned for her wedding, but also as she moves forward in her married life.”

"On behalf of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and Toyota Mobility, we are honored to share in this joyous occasion," Scott Heyer, Corporate Fleet/TRAC/TCUV Manager, told Rachelle and Chris. "We hope this special gift will enrich your new life together and enhance your health and happiness today and in the future. Congratulations!"

Rachelle had been using the loaned vehicle for wedding appointments and for travel between quad-rugby practices and tournaments, as well as therapy appointments. Until Van Products loaned her the vehicle, her mother had been carrying her in and out of her SUV.

“The van’s made all the difference in the world,” said Rachelle. “Not only has it saved my mom’s back, it’s just made it so much easier to get out and do things. I’ve missed this level of comfort, convenience and independence. Next up…learning to drive on my own!”

Joe Garnett, Braun Director of Marketing and Dealer Programs, and Scott Heyer, Toyota Motor Sales Corporate Fleet/TRAC/TCUV Manager, presented the 2011 Braun Toyota Sienna to Rachelle and Chris following the couple’s wedding reception in Raleigh, NC.

Rachelle will keep the mobility community updated on her driving lessons via BraunAbility’s online blog, AbilityVoice, at

For more information about Van Products Inc., visit, and for more information on Rachelle, visit


About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE: TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants, including one under construction.  Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.

About The Braun Corporation
The Braun Corporation is the largest manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans, ramps, and wheelchair lifts worldwide and enables people with physical disabilities to regain mobility and lead active and independent lives. The Indiana-based company was founded by Ralph Braun, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age and unable to walk by age 15. Ralph was motivated by his disability to invent the world’s first electric scooter (the Tri-Wheeler) and wheelchair lift (the Lift-A-Way) in his parents’ garage. Word spread and demand for the product increased, resulting in the birth of Save-A-Step Manufacturing, which ultimately became The Braun Corporation. The company offers the most diverse line of vehicle platforms in the industry, including the most popular minivan models from Dodge/Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota. For more information, or to find a dealer near you, please visit

Nicole Fischer
Padilla Speer Beardsley
[email protected]
(212) 752-8338


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