Eleven-year-old Staten Island Child with Rare Disease to Receive Free Accessible Van at Abilities Expo New York Metro, May 4-6, 2012

Abilities Expo exhibitor Ride-Away will present the van to the boy's family on May 5th at 10:00 am at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center

Apr 27, 2012, 16:25 ET from Abilities Expo

EDISON, N.J., April 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Eleven-year-old John Hudson Dilgen of Staten Island, New York is one of the thousands from the community of people with disabilities expected to attend Abilities Expo on Friday, May 4-6, 2012 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey.

While attendees with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals will all enjoy free admission and an impressive line-up of exhibits, workshops, celebrities, events and activities, John and his family will also receive the gift of independence.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Ride-Away, the Cub Scouts of America and Man vs. Food host Adam Richman, the Dilgen family will be presented with an accessible van on Saturday, May 5th at 10:00 am outside the convention center.

John was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare disorder that affects 1 in 50,000 people and causes the skin to blister and tear at even the slightest touch, bump or fall. In particular, John has a collagen 7 deficiency in which the layers of skin actually slide off. When he wakes up each day, his family and caregivers assess the damage that he did to his fragile skin during the night, and clean and bandage the wounds which cover 50% of his body. John uses a wheelchair and blisters also affect is internal organs, hands, feet, mouth, and on difficult days, his eyes.

His mother, Faye, said that having a wheelchair accessible vehicle means, "He will have a sense of freedom for the first time. He can go where he needs to without being picked up." According to her, John does not let his disease slow him down. He is active in the Cub Scouts and never complains about his sores.

It was John's Cub Scout pack leader that got the ball rolling after seeing Faye struggle to lift his electric wheelchair into her car. The pack organized a Walk for Wheels event where they raised $5000, enough for a down payment on a wheelchair accessible vehicle. The leader then reached out on Twitter for additional help and found it from Man vs. Food host Adam Richman. Richman, in turn, connected them with Ride-Away, who is assuming the balance of the cost of the van.

Vice President of Ride-Away Joe Allen said, "I'm proud to be a team member at Ride-Away, a company whose compassion for little John's disability has provided him and his family the gift of independence." Allen, who will be on hand to present the vehicle to the Dilgens, felt his company's dedication to Delivering Freedom meant they had an obligation to help John and his family.

"We are thrilled to play a part in helping to change John's life, as well as the lives of everyone who attends Abilities Expo," said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. "The Expo provides people of all ages and disabilities—whether it's physical, learning, developmental or sensory—access to life-enhancing technologies, education, resources and fun. Most of all, it's a celebration of what you can do, not what you can't."

Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Complimentary loaner scooters and wheelchair repair will also be available onsite during show hours.

The Latest Products and Services
Attendees will experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and much more. The Assistive Technology Pavilion, anchored by the New Jersey Assistive Technology Center AT Showcase, will feature the latest AT products for people of all abilities to experience hands-on.

Relevant Workshops
A series of compelling, informative workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees on Friday, May 4th and Saturday, May 5th. Our popular travel and home modification sessions will take place on both days. Other workshops will focus on employment, PT for kids, social interactions, seating, finding the correct mobility device and that is just for starters.

Adaptive Sports, Dancing and More!
Abilities Expo does not merely inform, it engages and it entertains. Attendees can learn some hip-hop and ballroom wheelchair dancing moves and play a host of different adaptive sports. And the kids will love the face painting.

Meet the Animals
Animals have become an intrinsic part of the disability community. Some are essential to the healing process, while others help their human partners become more independent. Expo-goers will enjoy assistance dog demos, a mini-horse, and see first-hand how full-sized horses connect to kids with Autism and their siblings.

Celebrity Encounters
Meet the stars of Push Girls, a new docu-series from the Sundance Channel which traces the lives of four dynamic women in Hollywood who happen to be in wheelchairs. The new original series premieres on Sundance Channel on June 4th.

Voices from the Net, A Disability Advocacy Symposium
On May 4th, be a part of the first annual Voices From The Net event, a free gathering of worldwide disability rights advocates, bloggers, supporters and Expo attendees sharing their experiences and fostering community. This event is brought to you by the founders of DisabledAccessDenied.com, where attendees can pre-register.

Give Back to the Community

Abilities Expo participants can bring their old cell phones, iPhones, iPods or iPads to donate to the Gift a Voice Project, a program that refurbishes or recycles this equipment so that they can be used by people with communication disabilities.

For more information, visit www.abilitiesexpo.com/newyork. Attendees may pre-register online, or register onsite when they arrive.

SOURCE Abilities Expo