[WORLDKINGS] Journey to seek extraordinary record holders around the world (P.52) – Ralph Braun (USA): Father of the Mobility Movement.


(WorldKings.org) Ralph William Braun was born on December 18, 1940 and passed away on February 8, 2013. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, Ralph refused to accept being a shut-in, a helpless invalid as he would have been viewed at the time. Instead, he brought himself and millions of other disabled people into the mainstream of society.

Braun was born and raised in Winamac, Indiana. When Ralph was just 6-years-old, doctors diagnosed his Muscular Dystrophy and told his parents he would live at most, into his teens.

They advised them to leave him in the hospital with people who could care for him, and told them he would be used for medical research.

But his parents rejected this advice and brought him home.

He started using a wheelchair at the age of 14. At the age of 15, he created a motorized wagon with his father to help him get around. Five years later, Braun created a motorized scooter, which he called the Tri-Wheeler, using various parts from his cousin’s farm.

Ralph rode the Tri-Wheeler to and from his day job as a Quality Control Manager for a nearby manufacturer. When the facility moved several miles away, he equipped an old mail carrier Jeep with hand controls and created the first hydraulic wheelchair lift, enabling him to drive his Tri-Wheeler in and out of the vehicle unassisted.

In 1970, Dodge introduced the first full-sized, front engine van. Braun retrofitted a Dodge van with a lift and called this new invention the “Lift-A-Way” wheelchair lift. When word spread about this new invention, Braun assembled a team to help fill orders across the nation, all from his parents’ garage. As demand increased, Braun decided to quit his full-time job to focus on his part-time business.

Braun started "Save-A-Step" manufacturing in 1963 to build the first motorized scooter. In 1966 Braun created the first wheelchair accessible vehicle, by creating a wheelchair platform lift and hand controls that were added to an old postal van. In 1970, Ralph added wheelchair platform lifts to full-sized vans. "Save-A-Step" was incorporated under a new name, The Braun Corporation, in 1972.

The result is his company, The Braun Corporation with its BraunAbility products has grown from a tiny firm into an 1,100 person global leader in wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts.

And it was begun by a disabled person with a brief life expectancy, who ultimately lived to be 72, and accomplished his dreams for himself and for millions of others.

According to en.wiki.org

Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings.org)


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