ROCHESTER, N.Y. – (April 20, 2016) – Vantage Mobility International (VMI) announced today that Denise Cody of Liverpool, N.Y. was selected as the winner of the company’s Mobility Van Challenge Dare to Compare Sweepstakes. She will be receiving a VMI Summit Conversion, which is a high-technology mobility solution allowing wheelchair access via patented ramp system to her 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan.

“We are always gratified to provide mobility solutions like our Summit ramp conversion which improve the quality of live for others. In Denise’s case, being the VMI Dare to Compare Sweepstakes winner, helping her get her freedom back is what we do best,” said Doug Eaton, VMI president and CEO.

The ‘unveiling’ of Cody’s new van will take place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at AutoCrafting Mobility Solutions, a United Access Company, located at 72 Hinchey Road in Rochester, N.Y.

Cody was diagnosed with an inherited form of Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 14 and her parents were told she wouldn’t live long enough to graduate high school. Cody said she walked out of that doctor’s appointment and kept on going. “I am not one to sit in the corner.” That was 40 years ago. In a wheelchair for the past 30 years, she has had a full and active life, raising an adopted son and working full- time.

In 2014, unable to control the gas and brake pedals, or transfer from her wheelchair into the driver’s seat, she could no longer safely drive her 2002 van. Since then, she has had to rely on others to take her to the grocery store, church or anyplace she needs to go. “I don’t want to be a burden to others,” she said.

Then in late 2015, ‘I was rolling around on the computer one day, saw the VMI Sweepstakes and entered. When they called to tell me I had won, I said ‘What?’ and started crying,” she said. The VMI Summit Conversion, valued at just under $23,000, not only has a wheelchair ramp that folds out, but the vehicle ‘kneels’ to create a lower angle of entry. Following her full driver assessment, Cody is also having driver hand controls installed. “AutoCrafting has been fantastic to work with through the entire process,” she said.

Cody, a published poet, also once competed on Star Search with Ed McMahon. She now performs with two choirs, the Cicero United Methodist Choir in Cicero, N.Y., and the Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus in Syracuse, N.Y. Cody says this van will enable her to go back to some of her volunteer and community work.

The first thing she plans to do when she receives her fully equipped minivan? Drive across the country of course, to see her sister Marty in California, her cousin and a friend in Phoenix, then on to Oklahoma and Tennessee to visit even more cousins. “I will have myself back. I have lost an enormous amount of myself because I have had to rely on other people and that is not who I am,” said Cody.