Tuesday, May 21, 2019

UATP financing helps veteran receive a van to fit his spirit

action photo
Bryan and Kim demonstrate the lift in his new van.
SANDY--As an outdoor enthusiast, Bryan Rowe skied, snow-boarded and mountain biked through Utah’s stunning landscapes. As a member of the US armed forces, he went to northern Iraq after the Gulf War to help provide comfort, build roads and manage refugee camps. As a custom woodworker, he has literally left his mark in many Utah landmarks, including the Utah State Capitol, the Salt Lake Library, the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City and the Coffee Garden on 9th and 9th. 

As an army veteran with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he needs some customization of his own. The degenerative, neurological disease has affected his movement, and getting in and out of his truck became more difficult. 

In the fall of 2018, Bryan and his friend Kim Olmore began looking for an adapted van that could transport him and the wheelchair he received from the Veterans’ Administration. (When this interview took place in May 2019, the ALS had affected Bryan’s speech. Kim offered some background and interpreted for him.) They knew he would also need financing that would help pay for the modifications, which would drive the price of the van well above its blue book value. 

They learned of the Utah Assistive Technology Program’s reduced-interest loans and began working with Lois Summers, UATP’s financing coordinator. UATP is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

Summers and UATP partner Zions Bank put together a loan that financed the van Bryan wanted—a Ram Promaster. 

The conversions were done in a way that would not affect the van’s warranty, Kim said.

They bought the van from a dealer in the Midwest. The dealership manager’s father drove it out to them over the Thanksgiving holiday, free of charge. “It’s just a unique breed of people when it comes to this type of situation,” Kim said. “It was amazing customer service.”

The van features a lift system that allows Bryan to keep a lower profile in his wheelchair, so he can see out of the windows. It also has a back bench seat that allows for the transport of additional passengers. He’s used it to see friends and attend barbecues, and he hopes to make a trip to the Oregon Coast to see his parents. 

The van purchase would not have happened without UATP, Bryan said. “I got the van to fit my spirit.”

Bryan, Kim and Elsie, Bryan's Vizsla dog.

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