Editor's note: At last week's North America Business Update, we shared the story of Palmiero Toyota's new mobility department -- and how it's already impacted one family's life in an unforgettable way. Watch the video above, or read the story below.
For Stephanie McGill, it’s the little things – like trips to the grocery store – that can sometimes seem impossible.
Her four-year-old son, Oliver, lives with cerebral palsy – among other brain injury issues caused at birth – and uses a wheelchair to move around.
Any time McGill takes Oliver along for family errands, she has to disassemble Oliver’s wheelchair piece-by-piece, put him in the car, and load the trunk with the wheelchair’s parts.
Palmiero Toyota’s President and General Manager, Allison Palmiero Brady, knew there had to be a better way.
She was familiar with the family’s story. Stephanie’s husband, Rob, has been a technician at Palmiero Toyota for 12 years. But Brady also recognized the larger business need for families living with mobility challenges in her community.
“Some people would drive hours to get their modified car inspected or had to ship their vehicle via transport for an inspection,” she says. “So that’s what inspired me to get this done.”
Mobility Mission -- Last summer, Palmiero Toyota celebrated the opening of the dealership's mobility department.
With the dedication of her team, Brady formed a strategic fellowship with BraunAbility and its lineup of wheelchair accessible vehicles. The staff underwent several hours of training to become certified by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). Last June, she and her team hosted an open house to unveil a profound transformation: The Palmiero Mobility Department.
“When we heard the news, we literally screamed,” says Brenda Bennett, president of Transportation Solutions. “Transportation is a true challenge here and Palmiero Toyota was the only one who stepped up to help people living with disabilities. Now we have a certified mobility provider. And it’s someone you can trust.”
A winner of Toyota’s prestigious President’s Award for Service - Excellence every year since its 1986 inception, it’s a profound addition to Palmiero Toyota’s portfolio. As an Authorized BraunAbility Dealer, Palmiero Mobility will sell and service wheelchair accessible vehicles and install adaptive driving equipment as well. Collaborating with Q’Straint, Sure Grip and B& D Independence, it will also showcase a vast array of additional mobility accessories.
“It’s been a phenomenal partnership because the cultures of BraunAbility and Toyota are the same. We are both totally committed to meeting the mobility needs of the consumer,” says Matt Swope, director of sales for BraunAbility. “And when Toyota decides to get involved with something, they truly commit.”
Palmiero Mobility is just one example of Toyota’s commitment to provide mobility for all. It symbolizes the mobility company’s vision to preserve the human right, dignity and freedom for every person to move and to live without limitations.
That includes McGill, whose mobility struggles resonated with Brady and the entire Palmiero Toyota team. McGill never could have guessed what happened next.
A Life-Changing Gift -- The Palmiero mobility team donated a 2018 converted BraunAbility Sienna to the McGill family. The van allows four year-old Ollie McGill, who lives with disabilities, to travel more places with his family.
In October, Brady surprised the family with a 2018 converted BraunAbility Toyota Sienna, free of charge. The van comes equipped with an automatic wheelchair ramp. Oliver will no longer have to leave his wheelchair to with the rest of his family. They’ve dubbed it “Ollie’s Swagger Wagon.”
Brady is confident the partnership with BraunAbility will help her dealership reach a new customer base. But for her, it touches on something so much deeper – their human dignity.
“For people living with disabilities, once you take away their vehicles, you take away their independence,” Brady says. These vehicles allow them to live their lives as they should.”
By Kristen Orsborn and Alexa Conomos