Donor drive means freedom on road

Friends and family of David Watson, with the keys, gather at Revability in Clarkston to celebrate the success of a community fundraiser in his honor. Photos by Phil Custodio

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
After almost 14 years without driving, David Watson is eager to get back behind the wheel.
“I want to get up and go, and enjoy the freedom to get up and go,” said Watson, who has also been confined to a hospital bed, recovering from a traffic accident.
Clarkston High School graduates Dave Muhleck and Selena Guidry started a Gofundme online campaign last year to collect funds for an new wheelchair-accessible van for Watson, a fellow CHS grad.
His previous vehicle was too low for him to ride in comfortably and not equipped to allow him to sit up front.
With a successful end to the campaign, they gathered with friends and family at Revability of Clarkston, March 23, to celebrate.
“With online and offline donations, I am able to get a new van,” Watson said. “Thank you to all who helped organize, shared posts and gave way beyond what I ever expected. You all have blessed me and my life and I am forever in your debt. God bless you all for your generosity and love that you have shown me.”
“It’s a blessing,” said Pandora Keiser, Watson’s sister. “We’re thrilled. You hear about all the bad stuff, but then you hear about this and know there are still a lot of good people out there.”
He took delivery of a Dodge Grand Caravan converted by Revability for wheelchair access and control.
“It’s fantastic,” said Kevin Bellant, mobility general manager for Michigan Mobility Solutions ast Revability, who went to high school with Watson. “It’s a great day. We couldn’t be more happy.”
Revability’s contribution to the campaign is part of the Rev Group company’s commitment to give back to the community, Bellant said.
“We want to thank everyone who made this possible – it’s amazing,” he said.
After some practice in the parking lot, Watson plans to use the minivan to travel around the state.
“I want to thank all the wonderful people who reached out for your support,” he said. “It’s really cool – wow!”
Also, his 2004 GMC van will go to his cousin, Kim, to help her daughter Lauren.
“It’s wonderful – the lord provides,” Kim said. “He has been blessed and he is blessing me. I’ve very grateful.”

David Watson checks out his new van.

Watson, 56, suffered a broken neck from a diving accident about 38 years ago, at the age of 18. The accident left him a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.
In the years following, he was able to manage life using wheelchairs and vans with conversions to accommodate his mobility needs.
He now uses a power wheelchair and needs a side-entry, lowered floor minivan better suited to his chair, something he wouldn’t have to hunch over in.
The fundraiser campaign was also in memory of Muhleck’s father, Earl Muhleck, who passed away on Dec. 22.