Melissa McLean hasn’t been able to stand since she was paralyzed a year and a half ago in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver.
She’s still a paraplegic, but now a special wheelchair means she can stand and hug her kids.
McLean’s custom-made wheelchair that allows her to stand whenever she wants was delivered to her Springfield home Wednesday. She received the chair through aid from the Ohio Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
“I love it,” she said after the first two hours using the wheelchair. “I wish everyone like me, being paralyzed like this, could have a chair because this will help them a whole lot.”
McLean was a backseat passenger with her cousin and two others when the driver swerved off a northbound off-ramp of I-71 in Columbus heading onto I-270 east and rolled, trapping her inside.
“It’s been real frustrating to come from always standing and taking care of yourself to not being able to,” McLean said. “It’s been difficult.”
Now when McLean wants to stand for a hug, to cook or look out the window, she can. While the chair is powered for mobility, she uses her arms to push herself up. The chair is engineered to lift her and hold her in place.
“It just changed my life because if not, I’d still be sitting in my chair and not be able to cook for my kids or reach up high,” McLean said.
Raymond Maczik, vice president of the Standing Company in Saginaw, Mich., presented McLean with her new chair and said she will also reap health benefits.
“They’re prone to skin breakdown, they’re prone to lack of bone density, they have bowel problems, bladder problems, breathing problems, circulation problems,” Maczik said of people in conventional wheelchairs. “We see quantum changes. People get healthier.”
McLean will also get some exercise for her upper body, and, Maczik said, probably get out of the house more because of the new level of independence she has.
The victims of crime fund is administered through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office with money collected from fines, liquidations of seized property and court costs. Victims can receive up to $50,000.
The chair cost $27,000, so McLean can apply for more money as other needs arise until she reaches $50,000. Her insurance didn’t cover the cost of the chair.
Columbus attorney Mike Falleur helps lots of victims like McLean acquire money from the victims fund.
“Michael Falleur helped make this possible for me to get this chair and the victim of crimes organization,” McLean said. “If it wasn’t for them or the Standing Company, I would still be sitting in a regular chair. I do thank them a whole lot.”