Meet Wheelchair Van Owner Jeff Derwallis

Jeff Derwallis was injured in 1991, when he fell from a three-story building while serving in the Marines. The fall seriously damaged his spinal cord and after a few complications, he became a paraplegic. Although he suddenly needed a wheelchair to get around, Jeff wanted to stay active and still do the things he had always enjoyed.

He began playing wheelchair tennis in 1999, and joined the International Tennis Federation Wheelchair Tour in 2003. After seeing the impact yoga had on his wife’s posture and energy, he decided to try that, too. As he began to spend more time practicing yoga, his strength improved, and in February 2011, he was even able to stand on his feet for the first time in 20 years. Now, with better health and a VMI van to help him get around, Jeff is enjoying the freedom to be active.

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I got hurt in 1991. It was in the Marines, so it wasn’t very easy to get around. I heard about Wheelchair Tennis for the first time. So, I moved out here, started playing wheelchair tennis and then I started going to tournaments and that kind of brought together… You know, I’d see these vans at tournaments. And people just going in and out. It was amazing, how much easier their life is.

So, I got my first van and it truly made a lot of problems disappear in my life. I used to play tennis with my wife all the time, because she was, she knew how to play, so she was coaching me. One of her friends mentioned this hot yoga studio. So, I started going just to improve my tennis game, and it worked. And a lot of my shoulders didn’t hurt anymore, I got more flexibility, quicker reaction times and then over time I started spending more time in the yoga studio, almost full time. And it just kept getting better, I kept feeling better about everything.

The quality of the VMI van is amazing. It really feels like it came out of the factory. The freedom of just being able to go get in the driver’s seat and take off and go somewhere is enormous. It’s just fantastic. My name is Jeff Joe Wallace and I’ve owned three VMI vans.

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