Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota Motor North America ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.
As a little girl growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Randi Price was always on the move.
“Oh yes, I always loved being mobile,” says Price. “When I was little, I loved running in the grass and playing. I played tennis, played soccer, ran and swam.”
Price dreamed of living somewhere that seemed as wild and expansive as her love of the outdoors. So, as soon as she could, Price packed up and moved to Colorado, where she hiked and rode horses against the rugged backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Just a few years later, at 29 years old, doctors diagnosed Price with muscular dystrophy. For decades now, the disease has progressively weakened muscles throughout her body. Over time, Price lost the ability to walk. Now, she struggles to speak. Hiking and riding horses are distant memories.
“So much of my identity was tied up in being an athlete and being active,” Price says. “That’s what brought me joy and made me feel alive. To have that gradually slip away has been a big challenge. The grief of losing function never ends.”
Price can no longer walk unassisted, and she relies on a team of caregivers to live her day-to-day life. As someone who loved to be outside in the fresh air, Price now spends a lot of time indoors.
But Price felt an urge to get out. She longed to travel again. She wanted to see the ocean. She wanted to visit her aging mother, back home in St. Louis. She decided to purchase a wheelchair accessible 2022 Toyota Sienna to make it happen.
The wheelchair-accessible Sienna is a modified version of Toyota’s minivan, created in partnership with Vantage Mobility International (VMI) and BraunAbility. The vehicle can be configured to meet an individual’s specific mobility needs. In Price’s case, that meant a ramp for easy access inside the van and room for her essential service dogs.
Although Price doesn’t drive the Sienna — her caretakers do — she can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
“Having that new van has made this transition so much easier for me,” Price says. “I feel very comfortable in it. I feel very safe. I can just enjoy the world going by. It feels safe. It feels very reliable. And I feel very thankful.”
Soon, Price will plan that trip to see her mother. Then, she’s taking a road trip to California to drive along the coast “with the windows down, feeling the ocean breeze.”
“To me, Toyota doesn’t just make cars,” says Price. “Toyota is giving me my freedom back. And I just can’t say thank you enough.”
Watch the video to hear Price’s story in her own words and learn more about how her wheelchair accessible Sienna has changed her life.