A valley couple --
both badly injured in a random shooting – is now working to re-build their
lives, but a local car dealer learned about their struggle and decided to get
involved -- and give back!
years ago, my fiancé and I were wounded in a random shooting," said Jennifer
Longdon. The bullet severed Longdon's
spinal cord. She remains paralyzed from
the waist down. Her then-fiancé David
Ruechert, was left blinded by one of the bullets.
shooter was never found.
The couple's 2001 van
is falling apart and needing new air conditioning.
of my spinal cord injury, the lack of air conditioning, the windows don't roll
down anymore.. that was a real issue," explained Longdon.
Getting around town
in an old van has made it tough for Longdon to handle her job as a realtor. She specializes in homes for people with
only does she have a successful career, Longdon also competes in half marathons
by wheeling herself throughout the 13-mile courses.
David and Sue
Kimmerle, the owners of Sanderson Ford heard about her situation and wanted to
help out. On Thursday, the dealership gave
the couple a brand new vehicle!
"I think I'm still in
complete shock when I got the phone call this was happening," said
Longdon. "I've been speechless and
sleepless ever since with gratitude and excitement."
"We found out how bad
her van was.. this is our business. Let's do this -- she has a need," said David.
The free vehicle, a Ford
Transit Connect, includes a wheelchair lift, hand controls and an exchange
transfer seat so Longdon can drive alone.
"It picks up the
wheelchair, puts it in the vehicle and transfers her into the seat so she can
drive with hand controls," David explained.
"This is amazing. I'm still stunned at the accessibility they've
been able to build in this van," said Longdon, who adds that she's overwhelmed
and grateful for such kindness.
"So much evil that
happened in that short period of time to have the community reach out and
balance something like that with so much generosity and good it's just amazing."
Longdon says Sanderson
Ford is the only dealership that equips their mobility vehicles in-house and
she's grateful for all of the support.
and Sue were also awarded Ford's top awards for outstanding customer service
and sales performance on Thursday morning.