Meet Our Wheel Friends
Alex Fedulov does not remember June 30th, 2018.
After this day, his friends had to help him to put together the pieces of what happened. He was in a car with an unknown driver when the car careened into a tree. Alex was not wearing a seatbelt.
The accident resulted in permanent paralysis of his legs, due to a severe spinal cord injury. He was in the hospital for seven months, but the physical therapy program there did not satisfy his criteria. Instead of simply stretching, Alex wanted to exercise and push the physical boundaries of his paralysis so that he could gain strength. He wanted to learn how to stand and walk again.
Similar to many other individuals with paralysis, Alex spent many months stuck in the same room, with no idea of the time of day, or even the day of the week. He says that “it is hard to make the choice to get up and go outside on your own. It helps a lot to have someone invite you outside”.
Alex’s friend Natalia helped Alex when he was in the hospital, and continued to help him after he was released by driving him to doctor and physical therapy appointments. After doing some research online, she found Blood Brothers Foundation.
Natalia helped Alex to apply, and we accepted him. We bought him hand controls. In order to get the modifications, Alex went through a series of tests to determine which hand controls would work best for him. Once they determined the best fit for him, they outfitted his steering wheel with a steering knob to help him direct the car with a single hand; they also outfitted his car with a device that is connected directly to the gas, and a device that is connected to the brake pedal. He pulls to accelerate and pushes to brake. At first, it was sketchy. He says, “You want to slam on the brakes, but your feet don’t work. But you get used to it.”
We are so excited to announce that Alex’s life is happy and healthy!
Last week, he got a service poodle named Sir Baldwin. Understandably, Alex can only push his wheelchair so much before getting tired. The modifications help Alex to take Sir Baldwin to the park to run around in the leaves and the sunshine.
Instead of feeling like a burden on people, Alex can now drive himself anywhere that he needs to go. Part of this feeling contributed to Alex’s post-accident isolation, which has since dissipated. Yesterday, he went over to a friend’s house for steaks, where they talked plumbing and future jobs. This freedom “makes me feel normal. It makes me feel like I am not annoying people with my wheelchair.”
While experiencing this newfound freedom, Alex noticed that he didn’t see people in wheelchairs, which is surprising, because a significant portion of the population is in a wheelchair of some sort. Especially with the temptation of the California sun, everybody should be outside. After observing this phenomenon, Alex was inspired to volunteer in the future to help wheelchair-bound individuals get out of their houses. He thinks that “people don’t go out because they don’t feel normal. Maybe if they see more people in wheelchairs, they will feel normal”.
But for now, Alex is spending his day going to the grocery store and park with Sir Baldwin. With his modifications, it’s as simple as that.
Written by Chloe B., after an interview with Alex
I am new to being paralyzed. About 1 1/2 years ago, I suffered a spinal cord injury. Since my injury was not in the line of duty, I incurred a lot of costs. My home had to be modified, not to mention the costs of medication. As I've adjusted to life, I saw the need to start driving. The modifications are very expensive, and I was telling a friend that I would not be able to drive for quite awhile because the hand controls were pretty expensive.
He encouraged me to reach out to Blood Brothers Foundation. I called Sara Garriques, and explained my situation. She walked me through the process like she was a friend. She's awesome! Shortly, thereafter, I received a communication saying the Foundation not only was going to buy the hand controls, but they were also going to have them installed.
The day I went to pick up my ride, they actually came by to say hi. Thank you, Andy and Sara for doing what you do. You gave me more independence and the ability to help my wife with our kids and family's errands!
I just wanted to write a little about my experience with the Blood Brothers Organization! I have MS and energy is a problem for me, in particular at night or for long distances. I drive a large van, and it is hard to drive sometimes when I am tired. One day at Occupational Therapy, I jokingly said that one of my goals would be to acquire an easier way to drive my van so that I am safer driving my then 12 yr. old daughter. Being a handicapped single mom, I have to do this A LOT. The therapist went online, and came across the Blood Brothers site! I have been so blessed by this organization; they helped me with ALL the financials of putting in hand controls, the classes and installation fees!! I still can’t believe it!!! Sara was AMAZING! She helped me so much, she had excellent customer service, if we played phone tag, she would go above and beyond to make sure that we connected! I appreciated her helping me brainstorm about the type of controls that I would need, and she took the time to make sure that I thought of everything. Then after the installation, Sara and Andrew came to be there when I picked up my van!!! That was so touching, it made me feel so taken care of; they are AMAZING!!!! I AM SO THANKFUL TO BLOOD BROTHERS!!!!