Mark Oldenburg, Toyota's Senior National Fleet Operations Manager, has been honored as this year's recipient of the Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability Award.
The award is presented to individuals "For improving the lives of people with physical disabilities and making a difference in this world."
Mark has been an automotive executive serving the wheelchair accessible vehicle industry for over 12 years. He has been a perennial speaker & panelist for numerous industry events. Mark is also a former board member of the Ralph Braun Foundation and a champion for many vehicle initiatives targeted to persons with physical disabilities and mobility issues.
The award comes with a $5,000 donation to a nonprofit organization of the awardee's choice, which Mark directed to the Memorial Scholarship Fund of the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED), which supports individuals who might not otherwise have access to the driver rehab training they need.
Mark's donation was announced the subsequent weekend at the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) conference in Columbus, OH, to the delight of ADED members in attendance.
BraunAbility presents to Mark Oldenburg the Ralph Braun Spirit of Ability Award for outstanding service to persons with disabilities at Toyota’s North American Headquarters in Plano, TX. Shown (L to R) Scott Nunez, Toyota Mobility Analyst, Kevin McMahon, BraunAbility Executive Vice President, Mark Oldenburg, Toyota Senior National Fleet Operations Manager, Bill Burris, Toyota Fleet Marketing & Mobility Sales.
On the occasion of BraunAbility's recognition of Toyota's Mark Oldenburg for service to the wheelchair accessible community, it was announced that the Toyota Sienna has risen to the top of the sales chart for wheelchair accessible vehicle sales in America, a first for Toyota in this category.
This sales milestone was revealed in conjunction with this year’s recipient of the Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability award, which honors individuals who make a notable difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities, often despite overwhelming odds. The award is named for the late BraunAbility founder, Ralph W. Braun, who had muscular dystrophy but did not let that prevent him from inventing the first motorized scooter, wheelchair lift, and shaping a company that today is the worldwide leader of mobility equipment.
We were honored to have 3X Paralympic Medalist Steve Serio join us at the recent Dallas Abilities Expo booth. Many attendees had the opportunity to meet Steve and view firsthand his multiple Paralympic Gold Medals. Attendees were also able to check out 2021 Wheelchair Accessible Hybrid Sienna and all of its exciting features.
Above Photo — Katherine Helffrich, an integration senior analyst with Toyota's Olympics and Paralympics marketing team, receives the award on behalf of Toyota presented to her by Bob Babbitt and U.S. Paralympians and Team Toyota athletes, Alana Nichols and Steve Serio.
Toyota was recognized as Partner of the Year at the 2021 Celebration of Abilities Awards Dinner, put on annually by the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
The award is presented to a partner who has made a significant contribution to CAF in the past year and whose values best reflect the mission of CAF.
As a supporter of CAF over the past four years, Toyota has provided vehicles and donations to help provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.
CAF and Toyota also share the following athletes: Oksana Masters, Steve Serio, Jessica Long and Alana Nichols.
For U.S. Paralympian and Team Toyota athlete Jessica Long, the water is not just the place where she competes. It is also the place where she finds peace. And now, the journey towards finding that private, healing place is to be shared with the world.
Long, a double amputee since infancy, is a four-time Paralympian in swimming and, with 23 medals, the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history. She was adopted into a large, loving American family, all but sight-unseen, from a Russian orphanage at thirteen months, her disability no barrier for her future parents. This Sunday, during the Big Game and in partnership with Toyota, she'll find the spotlight again, this time in a dramatized version of her adoption and road to swimming success, in a commercial all her own, titled “Upstream.”
"Every day, I walk with two heavy prosthetics. I may be a Paralympic athlete, but that doesn't take away the fact that walking is hard," says Long, 28. "The water has always given me so much freedom. Since I was a little girl, the water has been this place in my life where I just didn't feel the weight."
As if to mirror this sense of freedom given to Long when she swims, glides or even just floats, "Upstream" was filmed entirely in water. If the spot only featured Long swimming, that fact would not point to the feat that was pulled off. Scenes of the adoption, Long's family home, and even a sassy 10-year-old Jessica snapping on her goggles in a locker room all take place with water as the foundation.
The 60-second condensed biopic is also a triumph of storytelling. "It's everything," Long says of "Upstream." "It's everything I swam for, everything I've worked really hard for. My biggest hope is that young people see me, a girl without legs in the Paralympics, on TV, and think, ‘I can do that too.'"
Click here to read article: https://pressroom.toyota.com/swimming-upstream-with-u-s-paralympian-jessica-long/
Watch the Super Bowl Commercial: https://youtu.be/fqWG5_7nwyk