York City man’s dream of driving comes true with specialized truck

By GREG GROSS

With the press of a button on the key fob, the driver’s side and rear doors of Chris Sauerbaum’s pearly white GMC extended-cab pickup truck popped open and began to move outward.

About a minute later, the door was in position — about four feet from the truck body — and the wheelchair lift was on the ground. Sauerbaum, 33, of York City, maneuvered himself into position for the ride into the driver’s compartment.

Another minute or so later, Sauerbaum, who has a physical disability resulting from chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy, was in position behind the steering wheel, joysticks in hand and ready to roll.

Chris Sauerbaum of York City demonstrates the door lift on his custom GMC pickup truck at Cousler Park Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Sauerbaum, who suffers

Chris Sauerbaum of York City demonstrates the door lift on his custom GMC pickup truck at Cousler Park Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Sauerbaum, who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, has no legs and had the truck outfitted so he could operate it. Bill Kalina – bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

The truck, especially when the doors open, is a head-turner.

“You might as well be driving a Lamborghini,” Sauerbaum said.

But driving anything is what makes him happy. It’s something he’s wanted to do for more than a decade.

Driver: The journey to getting Sauerbaum behind the wheel of his own car started 11 years ago. The process has cost thousands of dollars and borne numerous setbacks.

He originally bought a Chrysler PT Cruiser with hopes of converting it to work with his disabilities. But it couldn’t be outfitted with the needed joystick controls.

Finally in 2013, Sauerbaum and wife Heather Sloat started an appeal for donations to raise money for a down payment on the pickup truck.

They raised the needed $10,000, including a $2,500 donation from Oletowne Jewelers, 2157 White St. in West Manchester Township, and made the down payment on the GMC Sierra pickup a few months ago.

The truck was then sent off to undergo a $91,000 conversion, which was covered by the state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the family of four finally took delivery of it about three weeks ago.

Chris Sauerbaum of York City demonstrates the capabilities of his custom GMC pickup truck at Cousler Park Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Sauerbaum, who suffers

Chris Sauerbaum of York City demonstrates the capabilities of his custom GMC pickup truck at Cousler Park Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Sauerbaum, who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, has no legs and had the truck outfitted so he could operate it. Bill Kalina – bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

“Think of it as a big (remote controlled) car. An 8,000 pound R/C car,” Sauerbaum said of the added electronics that allow him to operate the truck.

The pickup features two joysticks in the driver’s compartment. One allows him to feed the engine gas and to brake, and the other controls steering.

It took Sauerbaum a week and a half of training to get ready for the road.

Easier life: Driving not only gives Sauerbaum the freedom of the road but also frees up Sloat’s day.

In the past, she’d have to drive him to work, racking up 80 miles on the odometer each day, she said.

Now that Sauerbaum has his truck, he and Sloat want to help others in similar situations get behind the wheel.

They are working to gain 501(c)(3) status for Drive for Independence, a nonprofit organization they are starting to help people with disabilities navigate the process of getting a converted car that meets their needs.

“It’s just one piece of the puzzle to get people to work,” Sloat said.

The truck also met with approval during a recent car show in Mountville, Lancaster County. It took home first place in the street truck/SUV class at the Turn Up the Pink Car Show, Sloat said.

Sauerbaum and Sloat’s two 6-year-old boys, Tucker and Harley Sauerbaum, were anxiously awaiting their ride in the truck. But first, they needed new car seats.

Harley wasn’t always so keen on the truck.

Sloat and Sauerbaum showed the boys a video of Sauerbaum testing out a similar truck. As the doors slid open and Sauerbaum prepared to get in, Harley got a horrified look on his face and started crying.

“Harley said, ‘Why is that Transformer eating Daddy?'” Sloat said.

For more information about Drive for Independence, visit http://www.driveforindependence.wordpress.com.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

 

York Dispatch Article

Almost there! Help us reach our 2015 Upshift Summer Bash Goal!

 Drive for Independence would like to again, thank you all for helping make our 2nd Annual Upshift Summer Bash a huge success!

We made a lofty goal of $2000 for this year’s event
and have fallen just a little short.

We need your help! To help raise the remaining $200,
we have added a few incentives!!!

Donations are being accepted in person, by mail and via PayPal. For your convenience, use the Paypal link below to donate or use the contact form to contact us for our mailing address or to set up an in person meet.  When making your donation, please be sure to include your mailing address. This will help us to send your gift out to you! If you are local and would like to pick up your gift, please let us know!

Paypal

The donation incentives are as follows:

For each $5 donation, we will send you one of the commemorative Upshift Summer Bash drawstring backpack!

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For each $10 donation, we will send you a Lower ’48 Tucker Reproduction by Rob Ida poster and the commemorative Upshift Summer Bash drawstring backpack!

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For each $15 donation, we will send you one of our Drive for Independence Key Chains, in addition to the commemorative Upshift Summer Bash drawstring backpack, and Lower ’48 Tucker Reproduction by Rob Ida poster!wpid-20150817_102618.jpgwpid-20150713_092829.jpgwpid-2013-10-19-14.23.57.jpg

Thank you for your ongoing support of Drive For Independence!

Upshift-Thank You!

What a successful day! The 2nd annual Upshift Summer Bash was a great success! We cannot say “Thank You” enough to our sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and members of the community who came out to support Drive For Independence. We had a great time and our show field nearly doubled from last year’s size!

We would like to thank our sponsors again: Apple Nissan of York (Platinum), Ida Automotive, Preston Tucker LLC, Mobility SVM, Ride-Away, Aadvantage Insurance (gold Sponsors), Royal Manchester Golf Links, Amsoil by Mike Marx , Saba by Kala Sechrist (silver), Perfectly Posh by Stephanie Fritts, and Markets at Hanover (bronze). Also in memoriam sponsorship in memory of Tyler Shumate donated by Jim and Polly Shumate.

Upshift Summer Bash was very successful and we reached our goal! With nearly $2,000 raised we will now be able to proceed with our 501(c)3 (non-profit) status. In the coming months we will be hiring a lawyer to get set up so we can start serving our community and adults with disabilities! We are so excited to have reached this goal and it would not have been possible without the support of our community and sponsors! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Also we will be making a calendar just in time for the gift giving season. Winners from this year’s Upshift will be featured in the calendar. Watch for more details and pre-order information soon!

Here are some pictures from the event (people’s choice and Best Truck winner not pictured):
(we’ll be adding another post with many more pictures soon so keep an eye out!)
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Trophies

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1st place

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2nd place

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3rd place
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Best Motorcycle

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Upshift Trophies!

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1st Place all lit up! Thank you Mobility SVM for your Sponsorship!

Thank you to our Sponsors: 2nd place-Preston Tucker LLC, 3rd Place- Ida Automotive, Best Motorcycle - Aadvantage Insurance

Thank you to our Sponsors: 2nd place-Preston Tucker LLC, 3rd Place- Ida Automotive, Best Motorcycle – Aadvantage Insurance

Thank you to our sponsors: Best Truck - Ride-Away Wheelchair Vehicles and People's Choice- Jim and Polly Shumate in Honor of Tyler Shumate

Thank you to our sponsors: Best Truck – Ride-Away Wheelchair Vehicles and People’s Choice- Jim and Polly Shumate in Honor of Tyler Shumate

Prize pack includes $50 gift card, Sns Croftgate, wash bucket with Wash and Wax

Prize pack includes $50 gift card, Sns Croftgate, wash bucket with Wash and Wax

Prize Pack includes SnS Croftgate Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Aquanil X and a Tucker T-shirt (not pictured)

Prize Pack includes SnS Croftgate Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Aquanil X and a Tucker T-shirt (not pictured)

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick and Slick and a Tucker Torpedo poster

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick and Slick and a Tucker Torpedo poster

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick and Slick

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick and Slick

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project-X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick n Slick

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project-X, Wash and Wax, Tire Shine Plus, and Quick n Slick

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Aquanil X, Multi-Clean and Quick n Slick

Prize package includes trial pack of SnS Croftgate Project X, Aquanil X, Multi-Clean and Quick n Slick

Upshift Summer Bash 2015 Press Release

*For Immediate Release*

Bring you cars! Bring your family! And don’t forget to come hungry! We are thrilled to announce our 2nd annual Drive For Independence Upshift Summer Bash. This year’s event will be held at Leg Up Farm, 4880 N Sherman Street Ext, Mt Wolf, PA 17347, on Saturday, August 1 from 3pm-9pm. It is a car show, food truck and vendor event. There will be plenty of beautiful cars, food vendors to tempt your taste buds, plenty of vendors to pique your interest, and the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express DJs to keep the party going. The Upshift Summer Bash is a  fundraiser for Drive For Independence, a new organization in York PA to help adults with high level disabilities get wheelchair accessible vehicles to get to work. We are working towards the costs of becoming a 501(c)3 organization.

Our sponsors and vendors help us to make the Upshift Summer Bash possible. Our platinum Sponsor is Apple Nissan. With their help we are bringing an awesome activity to Upshift Summer Bash. New this year we will have RC2U bringing their mobile RC race set up to the show. There will be tickets available at $3.00 per race, 2 races for $5.00 or wristbands for $10.00 to race all night. All proceeds from the ticket sales come to Drive for Independence. It will be great fun for the young and young at heart!
We also have several Gold (trophy) and Silver Sponsors helping to make this year’s event a success.  Ida Automotive and Preston Tucker LLC are 2 of our gold sponsors this year. They are currently in the process of building what was the Tucker Torpedo concept car. Sean and Mike Tucker (Preston Tucker’s great grandsons) and Rob Ida who specializes in custom car builds will be on hand. Our other gold sponsors are Ride- Away, Mobility SVM, who will hold the first owners group meeting in conjunction with our event, and Aadvantage Insurance. One trophy is being dedicated in Memory of Tyler Shumate, who lost his life earlier this year in a car accident. Silver sponsors include Amsoil by Mike Marx , Saba for Life by Kala Sechrist, and Royal Manchester Golf Links.
Hungry? We will have Spectrum Farm to Truck to fill your bellies and Snow Stables Shaved Ice to cool you down. We are continuing to add food choices so check out the Facebook event or WordPress for updates. There will also be a bake sale that will benefit Drive for Independence. We also have vendors for all your shopping needs! Favorite direct sales companies, such as Perfectly Posh, and home crafters will be on hand to satisfy your shopping fun.

We would love to fill our show field with 150+ Cars, trucks and motorcycles. Pre-register your vehicle by visiting: https://squareup.com/market/christopher-sauerbaum/upshift-summer-bash-registration. Use code USB2015 at check out for $5.00 discount. You can also pre-register by going to the link below and printing out the mail-in registration. Pre-registration is only $10.00 while the day of the show registration is $15.00.  We will have 1st-3rd, best motorcycle, and best truck custom trophies designed by Chris Sauerbaum for the show field that will be judged by your fellow car show participants. There will also be a People’s Choice trophy voted on by the general public. The first 50 registered cars will receive a dash plaque and we will have 150 reusable goody bags to be given away. Chris is definitely showcasing his graphic design abilities with this show. We will also have a silent auction with items up for bid such as a round of golf for 4 (a $200 value) from Royal Manchester Golf Links, an Amsoil oil gift certificate, a family fun pack including a bowling gift card and movie passes and many more! We will also have activities for the kids including the large barrier-free playground, color your own car and face painting!

We will continue to grow the Upshift Summer bash bigger as Drive For Independence grows. We are taking everything we learned from fund raising for Christopher Sauerbaum’s Wheelchair accessible truck and helping others in a similar situation achieve accessible transportation for work. For more information please see https://driveforindependence.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/announcing-2015-upshift-summer-bash/ or our Drive for Independence Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/driveforindependence. To make a tax-deductible donation please see http://www.philanthropicendeavors.org/ and mark Drive for Independence in the Paypal notes section. We can be reached at driveforindependence@gmail.com or 717-991-5921.

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Upshift2015_Flyer

Printable PDF Upshift2015_Flyer