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Creating Opportunities for Disability Inclusion

Adriene Trautman’s son, Tristan, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy as a result of a lack of oxygen at birth. He relies on a wheelchair to get to and from doctor’s appointments, medical daycare and everyday errands with his mom. Before she found the Center for Independent Living (CIL), a nonprofit based in Winter Park that assists individuals with all types of disabilities, Adriane’s daily routine consisted of maneuvering her son and his wheelchair, a combined 160 pounds, up and down the five steps of their home every time they had to leave.

“Each day was a new balancing act,” Adriane says. “This was my life.”

Through CIL’s RAMPAGE program, the organization, along with volunteers from Cuhaci & Peterson, Siemens and First United Methodist Church Winter Park, built a 24-foot ramp at the Trautman home in 2018. RAMPAGE was established in 2005 to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities who can’t leave their own homes without assistance from others, allowing them the opportunity to access their community.

“The Center for Independent Living is breaking down barriers for people like my son every single day,” Adriane says. “I can now take Tristan in and out of our home without fear.”

As one of the first Centers for Independent Living in the country, CIL in Central Florida was created to provide resources and accessibility options for people with disabilities in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties. One of CIL’s biggest needs is home modifications, from building ramps for individuals with mobility issues to providing durable medical equipment and state-of-the-art assistive technology for those with visual or hearing impairments. In the past 10 years, over 13,000 lives have been directly impacted by the organization.

One of CIL’s biggest needs is assistance with home modifications, whether it’s partnering with builders and contractors for their expertise or relying on volunteers to help build. Over 120 ramps have been built by the hands of over 1,000 volunteers, but there are still over 500 Central Floridians in need of home modifications and over 200 who need ramps.

“Now that we have a ramp of our own, we see how transformative it truly can be,” Adriane says. “It’s not just a convenience, but it allows my son to safely get in and out of our home. Ramps provide the freedom and independence for people like Tristan to live their lives with dignity and respect without feeling like a burden to family and friends.”


How You Can Help:

1. Be a donor. Your contribution to CIL directly benefits the organization’s mission of breaking down barriers and creating new opportunities for disability inclusion and acceptance.

2. Get involved. Construction companies, contractors, individuals and corporate groups are invited to #JoinTheRAMPAGE to help build ramps for those in need.

3. Attend or sponsor an event. Next up is the Celebrating Independence Gala on June 21 at The Alfond Inn. For more information about the event, visit www.CILOrlando.org

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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