Ana proudly showed-off her new van last week as we drove from the medical center to the company that modified it for her. You see, Ana has no arms or legs; she was born that way 26-years-ago in El Salvador. Her parents brought her to Houston's Shiner's Hospital when she was one-and-a-half years-old, because they saw what others did not.
And while she has only been driving a short time she has not been idle. She got her bachelor's degree at the University of Houston in 2002 and she's working on a masters in social work there now. Ana eventually wants to get a law degree. She is a member of the Dionysius theater company, works full time at Shiner's Hospital, is doing an internship as part of her masters and because she loves to shop can often be found at the Galleria. She's had her driver license since January after training with an occupational therapist.
Ana bought the van and DARS helped pay the 70-thousand dollar's to have it modified to meet her needs. Ana's remote keyless entry opens the van's side door and extends a ramp that she enters and then locks her chair in front a small 10-inch steering wheel and the rest of her controls.
Ana's life was active before she got her van and driver's license, but she had to rely on family, friends and Metro Lift to get around. Now she's enjoying the freedom to fight Houston's traffic that most of us take for granted. Ana's says she lucky to live in a time when there is so much technology. Her van was modified by Freedom Wheels, Inc. in Houston, more on that next Monday morning