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Toyota and The Braun Corporation have partnered to provide a unique wedding present to a very special bride. A little over a year ago, Rachelle Friedman was celebrating her bachelorette party when she was pushed into a swimming pool. When she fell, Friedman broke her C6 vertebra and became a quadriplegic in an instant. After 14 months of hospitals, physical therapy and daunting medical bills, Friedman and her fiancé finally tied the knot on July 22.

While the bride and her family were preparing for the wedding, Toyota and Braun, one of the leading manufacturers of wheelchair-accessible van conversions, lent Friedman a vehicle to help out. Before that, her mother had to carry her in and out of the family's SUV. What Friedman didn't know was that Toyota was planning to surprise the newlyweds with an accessible Sienna Rampvan of their very own.

The new vehicle has opened up a new level of comfort and independence, and Friedman says that she can't wait to learn to drive on her own next. While most of us would have a hard time facing Friedman's reality, the young woman has maintained a positive outlook throughout her ordeal that's as inspirational as it is amazing. We wish Friedman and her husband, Chis Chapman, the best. Hit the jump for the press release.
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Newlywed Paralyzed in Tragic Accident Gains New Lease on Life

BraunAbility, Toyota Surprise Rachelle Friedman with Mobility Vehicle Donation

RALEIGH, NC – July 22, 2011 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and The Braun Corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans and wheelchair lifts, today announced the surprise wedding day donation of a brand new 2011 Toyota Sienna with a BraunAbility Rampvan® XT conversion to Rachelle Friedman, who was paralyzed as a result of a tragic accident during her bachelorette party in May 2010.

BraunAbility and local mobility dealer Van Products Inc. had loaned 23-year-old Rachelle and her fiancé Chris Chapman a BraunAbility Sienna Rampvan® while they planned their wedding. Unbeknownst to them, plans were in the works for the ultimate surprise: the donation of a mobility vehicle to the couple as a wedding gift they could use for years to come.

"Rachelle's resolve and strength are truly inspirational," said Nick Gutwein, President of Braun. "We were so moved by her story that we wanted to help her not only while she planned for her wedding, but also as she moves forward in her married life."

"On behalf of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and Toyota Mobility, we are honored to share in this joyous occasion," Scott Heyer, Corporate Fleet/TRAC/TCUV Manager, told Rachelle and Chris. "We hope this special gift will enrich your new life together and enhance your health and happiness today and in the future. Congratulations!"

Rachelle had been using the loaned vehicle for wedding appointments and for travel between quad-rugby practices and tournaments, as well as therapy appointments. Until Van Products loaned her the vehicle, her mother had been carrying her in and out of her SUV.

"The van's made all the difference in the world," said Rachelle. "Not only has it saved my mom's back, it's just made it so much easier to get out and do things. I've missed this level of comfort, convenience and independence. Next up...learning to drive on my own!"

Joe Garnett, Braun Director of Marketing and Dealer Programs, and Scott Heyer, Toyota Motor Sales Corporate Fleet/TRAC/TCUV Manager, presented the 2011 Braun Toyota Sienna to Rachelle and Chris following the couple's wedding reception in Raleigh, NC.

Rachelle will keep the mobility community updated on her driving lessons via BraunAbility's online blog, AbilityVoice, at www.braunability.com/abilityvoice.

For more information about Van Products Inc., visit http://www.vanproducts.com/, and for more information on Rachelle, visit http://www.rachellefriedman.com/.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thumbs way up
      • 3 Years Ago
      those of you who are saying negative things about this story do everyone a favor and just go off yourselves.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it odd that as a quadriplegic they posed her for that picture with her arms outstretched...
        Bruce Lee
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm pretty sure that's wrong since she had a C6 injury she's a paraplegic.
        emperor koku
        • 3 Years Ago
        Call me crazy, but I think it's just a stock photo.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          It is not, because it's a picture of her.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          You're right on both counts.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm kind of thinking the article got it wrong. Because that's not a proper wheelchair for a quadriplegic and I've never heard of a quadriplegic being able to drive. Also in her blog she talks about getting a Handcycle... The same site does say quadriplegic though.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Classy, Toyota.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm proud of Toyota and the fiance, but the fact that Toyota had to collaborate with Braun Corporation is a bit surprising. In Japan, they have this brand called Welcab, which is a lineup that consists of their cars that has a ramp for a wheelchair, as well as seats that tilt outside so disabled people can enter the car easily. I thought they already have the technology. They have been selling handicap-friendly cars in Japan.. but not in America, I guess. Whether there is a business case for handicap-friendly cars in America, I don't know.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It might be that the Braun Corp was the one to initiate the proposal and went to Toyota for a partner. I don't think Toyota would have earned quite as many brauny points if they had just stolen the idea. You have to work your angles, man.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Even though I know that this boils down to both companies having a good PR department, it's still a good thing that they did. Robert Kim- the amazing part is the fact that she remained postive and moved forward with her life after the accident...many people have a really tough time with that.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Finally, a story that actually makes me smile! Who would have thought that anyone in the media even cared about stories like these!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I applaud Toyota for such a gift... having been paralyzed due to a stroke one year ago,I can relate to such a gift, however I myself would settle for a motorized wheelchair .tOYOTA certainly has expressed due sympathy to a rewarding couple , who I also hope their marriage survives as well.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good for Toyota--its gift to Rachelle almost as inspiring as the young woman herself, given her fortitude and grace. Happy wishes sent her way!
      • 3 Years Ago
      This was a wonderful thing these corporations did, and I agree that Rachelle Friedman's is an inspirational person. I would not have had the strength, grace and dignity to face life as she has.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Very nice.
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