The “Roadrunner”

This is a photo of the Roadrunner ( the white handicap accessible van). We decided to do a custom cargo van to meet “Ladybugs” needs. She isn’t in a wheel chair we have a stroller chair. We have a custom lift seat instead of a wheelchair lift. This is so she doesn’t become accustomed to being in a wheelchair. We want for her to walk. We are rehabbing.

We ordered a standard stock cargo van. ( FedEx van ) from the dealer and had a custom van dealer to modify it to be handicap. Here is what we started with . https://g.co/kgs/tp25HJ.  It is a 2010 Mercedes Benz 2500.

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Above is a picture of the handicap accessible van with the cargo trailer or ” the Egg”. This is a cargo trailer that houses equipment for Ladybug. It also has our off-season needs in it in case we are stuck in bad weather.

My husband has built shelving and has wired the trailer so that it feeds to an inverter or a plug. This is how we can have fresh organic food for our “Ladybug”,

Hydraulic Arm Chair

This is a hydraulic arm chair that has a bucket seat. This chair has a remote. It transfers our daughter to and from the van. It can be used to transfer from a stroller to chair. Also from chair to stroller, wagon or to walk with canes.

Ladybug eats a special Organic diet. We sometimes have certain foods flown in to wherever her therapy or treatments are at. The white cargo trailer is called the “Egg”.  Probably the only place you will see a “Roadrunner ” with an egg. Its okay. Its what we do to stay sane. Everything has a name.

Field kitchen

A small cabinet and prep area to prepare food on the road. The cabinet holds Ladybugs supplies from pots, utensils to oxygen masks. Storage for food while on the road.

Ladybug supplies

Storage for Oxygen masks and supplies. Some dry food items.

The van even though it was not built or designed like we requested. We went to Liberty Mo to Chalmers automotive and toured the small garage like facility with the owner Jack Chalmers. I never realized then what this man would do.  While the van appears to look nice here it really no longer looks this way. I hope to take photos soon to be able to show you. I want to warn anyone else who might go shopping for a handicap accessible van of what you need to look for and hopefully you won’t fall for the same mistakes we did. Unfortunately there are many who take advantage of families and people with medical and special needs. This really does happen.

The van also has space for extra passengers in the back or if we are on a long road trip to a Dr.s office or treatments the girls can ride in the back. There is a longer seat in the back. It is a sofa type seat. It does have safety belts. They generally don’t sit there unless they are bored from sitting in their normal seats. Our inverter batteries are stored under this seat as well as some cleaning supplies.

Sofa walk through van

Photo of sofa from the front of the van. You can see it is directly across from cabinet and has safety belts for 3 passengers.

Storage above cabinet storage

Additional storage. We originally had a small oven in this cabinet.

Marine toilet with cartridge

Marine toilet with handicap accessible bar. This toilet has really been God sent. I don’t mean any disrespect. It really has. It is beyond difficult for me to help our daughter in public bathrooms. Not to mention how unclean they are. It is also wonderful on the road trip.

Small beverage refrigerator with freezer top

A small beverage fridge with a small freezer on top. This is great for taking Ladybugs food with us. She cant eat at ANY restaurant or any grocery store. She has been unable to eat at any produce stand. Organic or non organic. We prepare all of her meals from Whole Foods. This is a challenge sometimes with travel. We plan well in advance. There really is No impromptu stopping and eating for us. We heat and eat.

I forgot to add that the original dorm fridge we had that came with the van caught on fire. We barely got our youngest daughter and ourselves out of the van.  My husband rushed in pulled the plug and literally threw it on the sidewalk while we watched it burn.  No one was injured thank God. Im sure the people at the hotel thought we were insane. What was amazing to me is to see how many people were walking by and looking inside the van while the burning fridge was sitting next to the van. No one seemed phased by a burning fridge sitting outside a van only a maid at the hotel who offered to help us. Bless her heart. 

We don’t have the choice to stop and eat at fast food restaurants or grocery stores. I spend a lot of time planning meals, trying to make different meals from the same vegetable. We also have some of Ladybugs meat shipped to us via air mail. This is really, really expensive. This is the only food that has been safe for Ladybugs consumption.  Vegetables have been a trial to find sometimes. I love small town USA but they don’t always have organic vegetables. ( Sounds silly but they don’t).

Control panel on wall for heating and air. Panel controls TV and DVD player or headphone jacks. HEPA Filter for bad air days.

We also have a separate heating and air and HEPA filter in back. This keeps the temperature down for Ladybug who was having seizures. In areas with high pollen or pollution count the HEPA filter has been a blessing.

Television panel with speakers. Used for doing homework, school and watching DVDS between Dr.s apps and treatments or therapy. Also good for long grocery trips.

Television panel with speakers. Used for doing homework, school and watching DVDS between Dr.s apps and treatments or therapy. Also good for long grocery trips. We have separate headphone jacks so the noise doesn’t sound in the van only on the headphones. This is really nice.

We also have the Day and night shades. They haven’t faired well though. They were just plain cheap and while the passenger side is still fine the driver side that you see is falling down and really needs replaced. These are really good for us because of those people who are “gutsy” enough to literally walk up to our windows and “window peep”.  You know who you are. It happens in many states but California people take the blue ribbon on this one. Everyone else just gawks. People in Arkansas have called the police on us at grocery stores even with a handicap plate. They are sure its a camper van and we are sleeping in it. Jeez people get a life!

Finally, the forward with drivers seat and panel. Honestly these photos were take 4-5 years ago when they drove the van to California.  It started falling apart right away. We had electrical fires in the Inverters and walls right away. This is really scary. Driving down the road you have 2 small kids in the car and you see smoke. We keep 2 working fire extinguishers in the van at all times. We have used them on other peoples car fires. We have seen 2 car fires in the past year.

Photo from the sliding door passenger side. This is the hydraulic arm chair. The step stool behind the seat is so our daughter can rest her legs on long trips and not let her feet dangle.

Photo from the sliding door passenger side. This is the hydraulic arm chair. The step stool behind the seat is so our daughter can rest her legs on long trips and not let her feet dangle.

Drivers seat- passenger seat.

Drivers seat- passenger seat.

In the past few months we couldn’t figure why the seat belts stopped engaging. My husband being the handy man that he is and has worked tirelessly on this van and on the coach. He took the seats apart. He found “DUCT tape” holding the belt mechanism. He contact the manufacturer who wanted nothing to admit to it and refused to do anything about it.

It took him contacting the DOT to get any kind of a response.

What this requires now:

  • Taking the seats out of the van.
  • Shipping them to the facility where they were manufactured and trust that they are going to put the real mechanism in to replace the “DUCT tape.”.
  • The facility shipping them back to us.

 

The owner of the company and his employees stopped taking our phone calls. They told us we could drive the van to Liberty, Mo. but there is no guarantee that anything would be covered on warranty. They are the ones who placed all the wiring, and customized the van. They finally refused to even look at the van. The company Chalmers automotive no longer shows in Liberty, MO it is now showing with Mr Chalmers in Kansas City, Mo. There is no where on the web that you can add a review for them. There was a forum that I placed a review on however it disappeared soon after that. I was taken off the forum.

People always want to see our van. Its pretty cool that they have so much interest. What it does for us is to let people see this blessing from God. Even with the things that are wrong and with its blemishes. It also gives us an opportunity to tell everyone about the Grace of God with our daughter and our family. God saved our daughter from dying. I know He did. I don’t care what anyone things. This little girl is a lot of work. Her equipment and daily care is a lot of work sometimes. We all paid the price. God gives us the Grace, His favor and His mercy to deal with it.

 

 

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