All posts by Denise

Where to Go for Easily Accessible Outdoor Holiday Fun

By guest blogger Roberta Rosenberg of Destination Accessible US Inc.

Although I can hardly believe it, Holiday Season 2021 has arrived. It seems to me it was just Labor Day, not Thanksgiving! No matter what I believe, it is here.

Many of us have returned to indoor activities and some of us are still hesitant about being inside. If you are not inclined to be indoors, know that there are places to go on Long Island and in New York City, and ways to enjoy the holidays that offer easy accessibility.

One of the easiest ways to experience the season is with a “drive-through or drive-by” of one of the holiday light shows. All you need to do is get into a vehicle and go! (Although in most cases you need to secure tickets in advance). Jones Beach has “The Magic of Lights.”  “A Bug’s Night” is at the Nassau County Museum of Art. The town of Riverhead has a Holiday Light Show, as do the Girls Scouts, in Smith Point Park.

If you can manage it, Milleridge Village has a lovely holiday village, complete with shops and Santa. Although there are bricks underfoot, it is quite accessible.

Two of our favorite, easily accessible places any time of the year are the Brooklyn Botanical and the New York Botanical Gardens. Both have holiday lights. The New York Botanical Gardens also has their wonderful holiday train show, which is indoors.

Harbor Front Park in Port Jefferson is easily accessible and always lovely. From here it is easy to move through town, with its shops, restaurants and festive decorations.

If you don’t need the holiday decorations, but want a beautiful, easily accessible outdoor place to take in the view, you can’t go wrong with any of the following: Sunken Meadow State Park Boardwalk (with a view of Long Island Sound), Theodore Roosevelt Park (with a view of Oyster Bay Harbor), Heckscher Park in Huntington, or the Long Beach Boardwalk (with a view of the Atlantic Ocean).

If you are going into Manhattan, check out its newest accessible park, Little Island, overlooking the Hudson River. You can’t go wrong with any of these things to do as part of a fun holiday season. Best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Holiday and New Year!

If you want the accessibility details of any of the above venues please visit, www.destinationaccessible.org, so you can, “Know before you go!” We always suggest also visiting a venue’s website for very up-to-date information, such as pricing, hours open, etc.

Everyday Quiet Heroes: A Story of Resilience, Art & Health

“Our society is celebrity driven. What is often overlooked are the quiet everyday heroes who work day-in and day-out, extending their fullest humanity to others in need, and these are the stories that need to be told. That’s what makes the world a better place.”

Reji Mathew, PhD, LCSW, said so well what many of us have been feeling these days, especially after nearly two years of unrelenting stress brought on by the global pandemic. As restrictions now finally begin to ease, we’re collectively at a critical crossroad: Will we each simply return to that same old life we had before or will we thoughtfully use this interruption of the mundane to perhaps change course for a more fulfilling future for ourselves and our communities?

People who contemplate questions such as these, and live exemplary lives, are the shining examples to us all. Enter Reji, a professor and mental health educator at NYU in New York City, an integrative social work psychotherapist, an expressive arts advocate, a digital artist, and a narrative journalist. Her work expands minds and opens hearts, as she focuses on human-interest issues that address health recovery, the arts, and resiliency. She’s someone who truly makes a difference in our world. Let’s get to know her a bit better…

Transitioning in the Shadow of Trauma

We were fortunate to meet Reji when she came to Bussani Mobility recently needing help with an accessible vehicle. She has had a neuromuscular disability since childhood. She had been driving for about 20 years using hand controls in her vehicle. As her condition progressed, she transitioned to a motorized wheelchair and found herself suddenly needing a fully adapted van.

“People typically go through these transitions in the shadow of a traumatic event or medical change, unless they were disabled from childhood,” Reji said. “When my condition progressed, I had to transition to a wheelchair overnight. The abrupt transition left me with only the option of taking a wheelchair transport service from Rockland County to and from campus in New York City, which I could only afford a few times a year. I was fully ambulatory in the city, but did not have the same independence in Rockland. Because my van was not adapted, I didn’t have my own independence anymore.”

Now, Reji drives a 2020 Honda Odyssey with adaptations. She purchased the van, and the technicians at Bussani Mobility’s auto shop implemented a full conversion, installed a wheelchair ramp, and fitted her with advanced hand controls.

Reji drives her Menox hand-controlled, adapted van to the bus stop in Rockland County and takes the bus to New York City. Driving from Rockland all the way to the NYU campus and back is too demanding for her, so this is the solution that works best.

“Not only can I travel back and forth to campus, but I also have my independence back in the county, and my independent life has been restored,” Reji said.

It Takes a Village

When Reji realized that she suddenly needed an adaptive van, she was distraught because she did not have the finances to purchase a fully loaded van. She explained: “Bussani came to the rescue. From the moment I called, I received exceptional care and mobility guidance. Jordan [a mobility specialist] explained the whole process, how to get funding, and how other customers found solutions in similar circumstances like mine.

“Funding took a village; I had to take another teaching job, and got partial funding through ACCES-VR, held a small fundraiser through my art, and it all came together. I would not have known how to tackle the financial challenges of van mobility adaption without the framework Jordan took the time to review with me on how to approach this.

“Once the van came in, the Bussani Mobility team brought me back and forth to the mobility center five different times to adapt the van, make changes to the ramp, and tweak the hand controls. This process of tweaking the mobility equipment to your level of ability is critical, especially when it comes to neuromuscular weakness. Safety was key to them, and I felt so cared for and supported and was amazed with the level of experience of the mobility technicians.”

Reji really made our day when she told us that she “had never worked with a place where I was treated with such humanity, where they heard my story, cared, made the commitment, and solved all the problems that arose. Through the whole process, I had to pinch myself, since I was not used to receiving such exceptional care. Unfortunately, when you have been a person with long-term health care needs, engaging with ‘the system’ is so challenging. Bussani Mobility of Westchester is a model of exceptional care for the disability community. To know that I will have the center, and it will be a reliable life-long relationship, is such a relief. I am so grateful.”

Reji said that we are quiet everyday heroes. And we are so moved by her words. But what we most want her to know is that, to us, she is the everyday hero, so generously offering her gifts, words, kindness, and inspiration to others as a teacher, activist and artist. 

When we asked Reji what advice she had for other people who are living with a physical disability and may need driver rehabilitation services, she said: “Know that this transition is a process, and it does take a village. Build relationships with people that leave you feeling safe and respected. Trust yourself. Ask yourself, ‘Am I being treated with the respect and dignity I deserve?’”

Live Out Your Potential

Another of the central concepts in Reji’s life work is accessing the arts as a multi-sensory processing tool for problem-solving, self-expansion, and personal growth. Expressive art therapies help use the arts as a basis for discovery and change.

Some of Reji’s digital art, a multi-sensory processing tool she uses for problem-solving, self-expansion, and personal growth.




She shared: “Everyone in society gains when each person finds their place and lives out their full potential. We are all meant to be equal and contributing members of society. Now that I’m back to having mobility, I am able to contribute fully to my community. And accessibility is a critical part of a framework of universal design.”

When we think of the people that Reji touches in her daily work, we’re proud that we played a part in helping her solve her mobility challenges and live an independent life. We say back to you, Reji, “100 thanks” for all you do.

To find out more about Reji’s artivism (where art and activism meet) – and to experience her digital artwork, expressive arts workshops, and writings –  visit her website at http://www.rejimathewphd-writer.com/about.html.

Service Tips for Accessible Vehicles

Did you know there are specific things you need to do to keep your accessible vehicle running smoothly? What are they and how often should you do them?

We have all the answers, and we’ll take you a tour of Bussani Mobility’s auto shop to learn why regular maintenance is so important. It ensures trouble-free conversion operation of an accessible vehicle, and it can increase the life of the vehicle. We look closely at mobility ramps and doors…talk about electrical and cooling systems…tell you what happens during a multi-point inspection…and talk about warranties and extended warranties, as well as our 24-hour emergency service program.

At Bussani Mobility, we have more staff working in our service department than on our sales team. That’s how important our commitment is to safely maintaining your accessible vehicle. To find out more about servicing your vehicle or to make a service appointment, call 833-998-2172 or visit https://www.bussanimobility.com/car-s….


Take a Virtual Tour of the New Chevy Traverse Accessible SUV!

The long-awaited new Chevrolet Traverse Accessible SUV is here! It’s converted with the BraunAbility Power In-Floor ramp and has tons of space. The two front seats can be removed for those who want to get behind the wheel of this awesome new truck. The tow package will handle up to 3500 pounds.

There’s a lot more to see. Check out the video.

And see it in person at any of Bussani Mobility’s three locations (Bethpage and Smithtown on Long Island, and Mamaroneck in Westchester).


Press On & Savor Life … Inspiration From a Vietnam Veteran

You know how some people always have an encouraging word? And they stay upbeat no matter what happens? Well, if you ever need some inspiration, Dario Diaz (a disabled Navy veteran with an E-4 rank) is the guy to talk to. Here’s his story …

After serving in Vietnam, Diaz returned home and started a plumbing business with his dad in the mid-1970s. Life hummed along for quite a few years, and then in 2001, he was in a car accident. A few weeks later, he started to feel a twitch in his leg, and it turned out that the accident had stretched his spinal cord. A private doctor diagnosed him with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a condition that weakens the nervous system and impacts physical function. He decided to go to the VA (Veterans Affairs) for a second opinion, and the doctor there concurred, marking the diagnosis as “service connected,” which means they attribute the injury to the fact that he was in the military.

Diaz’ condition worsened over the years. Today, he can’t stand without holding onto something, and he uses a scooter to get around.

He was first introduced to the world of accessible vans when he bought one from Bussani Mobility nearly 10 years ago for his mom, who had MS. Eventually, he needed the vehicle for himself as well.

Accessible Van Means Everything
Now, Diaz drives a converted accessible 2017 Toyota Sienna, paid for by the VA. The van has a six-way seat that allows him to easily transfer in and drive from the original seat. And as he says, the vehicle has “a lot of goodies in it.”

Always active in his life, Diaz used to race motorcycles, ride horses, and the like. These days, he goes out with his buddies from the military, most of whom are in their sixties and still going strong.

“If I didn’t have this van, I’d be in trouble,” said Diaz. “My buddies would pick me up and drive me around, but I prefer to do things on my own, like I do and have always done. This van is equivalent to my being able to walk and jump up and down. It means everything to me.”

He went on to explain that, even for a veteran who can’t drive, having an accessible van is so important. It allows their family to get them out of the house, take them to a movie, or out to eat.

And for those family members who may be in their last days, “you want to shower them with as much joy and opportunity as you can,” he said.

Have a Purpose in Life … And See the Good in People
Not only has Diaz found a way to deal with his physical disability, but he has used the happenings in his life to grow personally and find his purpose. Namely, he offers a powerful Christian ministry specifically for men.

About his personal inspiration to start the ministry, he says: “Jesus was a fisherman of men. And I have a ‘heart for men.’ I have an interest to talk to men about the problems all men face. I conquered a lot of things that I used to do, in a Biblical and loving way, so I can talk to men and break through to them. In order to do that, I need my van and my scooter to get me around.

“I’m happier now than when I was moving around before having a disability. And I have a testimony. Everything hinges on the fact that I do have a disability. Thank God that ALS didn’t affect my cognitive ability.”

Diaz described how he approaches the everyday: “I savor life. I savor people, more than before. I go birdwatching with my wife. And I savor all the good that God created. And I don’t judge. If you’re an alcoholic, I love you. You’re being yourself. I’ll say things to encourage you, but I focus on the good. My son says, “My dad always sees the good in people.’”

He had his faith before serving in the military and experiencing that car accident, but he proclaims that he has much more faith now.

Press On
When asked one thing that he most wants to share with others who are living with a disability, Diaz said: “Press on. There are so many things available to help, like a grip bar in a handicapped bathroom or a chair that takes you up the stairs. And if you have a family member that becomes disabled — like grandpa starts falling and needs a scooter — you do the research for them. And press on.”

Sounds like good advice for all of us these days. Thank you, Dario, for being a shining example of all that’s good. Let’s all press on, whatever that may mean in our individual lives.

To find out more about Dario’s Christian ministry for men, contact him directly at dario457@gmail.com.


5 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Wheelchair Van

Most of our blogs focus on helping you get the most from your wheelchair accessible van. This time, we’re tackling the subject from a slightly different angle. We had a chat with Dan Walsh, co-owner at Bussani Mobility, who has spent two decades helping our customers with their mobility needs through our Service Department. He told us the five worst mistakes you can make with your mobility vehicle. Here’s his advice and what to avoid, in his own words…

1) Lending Your Van
I’ve seen many people use their wheelchair accessible vehicle as a moving van, resulting in damage being done to the lift or ramp. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five different rental companies that provide vans for moving, just off the top of my head. Your vehicle is way too important to be used this way.

2) Not Securing Wheelchair Properly
It’s essential to have a securement system properly set up for your wheelchair in your van. If you don’t do this, you risk your own safety and that of others with you in your vehicle and on the road that you share.

3) Not Insuring Your Investment
Now that you’ve purchased your wheelchair van, don’t you want to protect it? Your mobility dealer should have connections with reliable insurance brokers to help you with this, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your vehicle is properly insured. We recommend having a copy of your bill of sale sent to your insurance company (and request a certified receipt).

4) Accident Damage Not Reported to Mobility Dealer
I tell all of our customers, “If you have an accident, CALL ME FIRST!” Because I know what should and, most importantly, what shouldn’t be repaired after a collision. Bussani Mobility is a NMEDA/QAP-certified dealer, and we offer 24-hour service for both mobility emergencies as well as any unfortunate accidents that sometimes occur. I’ve personally spent hours undoing what an uneducated appraiser has offered as payment on a van because they didn’t know the true value or the protocol for repairs.

5) Letting the Dirt Build Up
Simple as it may seem, if you don’t keep your wheelchair accessible vehicle clean, debris can build up in the door tracks, lift barriers, and motors. This is the cause of a major part of the repairs we handle for our customers. It’s easy to fix – just keep it clean.

Everyone at Bussani Mobility is standing by, ready to assist you whenever you need or want help. Contact us or stop by one of our locations for answers to all of your mobility questions. You can also easily schedule a service appointment online.


9 Great Gifts for People with Disabilities

Man gives New Year's gift to woman in wheelchair

Still have holiday gifts to buy, but you’re just stumped on what to get? Here are some ideas if your loved one has a physical disability.

1) A Good Night’s Sleep

For people who use a wheelchair, their body can get stiff and sore, and sleep issues like insomnia are common. A gift to relax the body or mind can help a person sleep more comfortably. Try a calming candle, white noise machine, or massage wrap.

2) Wheelchair Pouch

This handy contraption attaches to the wheel, arm or back of a wheelchair and provides convenient storage for personal items. Some are black and basic, while others are highly styled with vibrant colors and accessories.

3) Adaptive Clothing
There are many companies – like Target and Tommy Hilfiger – that offer clothing lines specifically designed for people with physical disabilities and seniors. Adaptive clothing often uses velcro and magnets rather than buttons and zippers; pants, dresses and shirts open to the side or the back; and shoes have easy step-in and closures. It makes everyday dressing easier. 

4) Computer Mouse

Make web browsing easier with a modified-use mouse. Varieties include ring (finger-controlled), pedal (foot-controlled), or orally-controlled options.

5) SAD Lamp

Studies show that people with disabilities suffer depression and anxiety at a higher rate than the general population. For loved ones with wintertime blues, a SAD lamp can help elevate mood by radiating the benefits of natural light, allowing recipients to experience “happy rays” even after the sun goes down.

6) Modified Cane

Canes have been used for centuries as walking aids. Modern advances have made canes even more useful. Especially helpful for seniors, retractable canes can expand to serve as a balancing aid when needed. Or, freestanding walking sticks remain upright, preventing users from having to bend excessively.

7) Electrical Adapter

Plugging in electronics can be a challenge for people with limited mobility. In addition to bending and reaching, the person must line up the prongs perfectly, which may prove difficult and frustrating. A magnetic electrical adapter allows devices to be plugged in quickly and easily.

8) Jewelry
Especially if your loved one is female, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful piece of jewelry. Always consider her personal needs and any sensitivities, but what woman wouldn’t adore getting a lovely necklace, bracelet or earrings this holiday season?

9) Personal Passion

One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give is something that relates to your loved one’s personal passion, hobby or fandom. What do they love to do? What are they always watching videos about on YouTube or Facebook? A gift that ties into something they most care about is sure to be appreciated.

We hope that gives you some good ideas. Now get out there (or online) and shop!

Here at Bussani Mobility, we’re all about independence and helping you get mobile. Our customers often become our friends, too, and we try to provide information about accessibility that goes beyond their mobility vehicle. If you’d like to see more helpful resources, click here.


Veteran Christopher Levy Wins a New Jeep

Veteran Christopher Levy Wins a New Jeep

Congrats to the recipient of the 4th Annual Great American Jeep Giveaway at Westbury Jeep! Christopher Levy, U.S. Army, who served 8 years including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was honored earlier this year. Bussani Mobility worked with Westbury Jeep to install hand controls that operate the gas and the brake – and to give an American hero a chance to get back on the road. We salute our heroes.


Bussani Mobility Creates First 3D Accessible Parking Aisles

To raise awareness for the importance of respecting accessible parking spots, Bussani Mobility has created the first 3D accessible parking aisles.

The goal of the 3D accessible parking design is to bring attention to a significant issue faced by people who use wheelchairs or scooters. The 3D optical illusion of a raised barrier was created to stop someone who is not disabled from parking on the access aisle, thereby keeping it open for someone who needs it to deploy a wheelchair van ramp.

The 3D handicapped parking aisles are in place at Bussani Mobility’s Smithtown and Mamaroneck locations, but Bussani Mobility CEO Daniel J. Bussani says: “The 3D accessible parking aisles should be done everywhere, not just at mobility dealerships. They help people be more aware of the everyday obstacles faced by people living with mobility challenges. If someone parks illegally in those spots, especially if they block the striped lines, the person who needs the access won’t be able to exit their vehicle. Let’s all pay more attention … and do a little bit of good in the world.”

Accessible parking abuse is rampant. In fact, in a recent U.S. survey, 74% of participants said they have witnessed accessible parking abuse. People with disabilities make up the largest minority in the world, according to the United Nations, and mobility disabilities affect one in eight adults in the U.S. Yet the daily challenges faced by this group, like parking, are largely ignored by society.

The 3D access aisles are part of a larger, nationwide program launched by mobility vehicle manufacturer BraunAbility, in honor of the recent 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bussani Mobility is one of 17 mobility dealership locations across the U.S. that is installing 3D accessible parking designs to combat illegal parking in spaces designated for those with mobility disabilities.


John Bussani Inducted Into NMEDA Hall of Fame

John NMEDA Hall of Fame3-19On March 7, 2019, our founder John Bussani was inducted into the NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) Hall of Fame. He was honored as “one of the true pioneers and ground-floor innovators” of the mobility industry.

John’s Backstory

NMEDA told the story of how John fled Yugoslavia at the age of five with his mom, to join his father, who had defected to Italy to make a better life for his family. He remembered riding on a train in the dark, with the sounds of war raging all around him.

He had his first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty at 11 years old, from the ship that brought his family to America. They settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, and later moved to Freeport, New York. Later in life, John served in the U.S. Army, and experienced some of the physical challenges faced by veterans who were disabled in their service to our country. He started thinking about how he could help.

After the war, John worked as a draftsman and then started repairing automobile transmissions. While having dinner with friends one night, he was introduced to a polio survivor and the conversation touched on mobility. That night inspired him to start on a career that spanned over four decades and touched thousands of people’s lives. At first, he worked out of the trunk of his car, visiting people’s homes to put hand controls in their vehicles. John went on to become a charter member of NMEDA; was actively involved in developing the QAP program; and participated in the Adaptive Driving Alliance, as well as leading industry organizations.

Advancing People’s Lives
John retired in March 2017, and passed the torch to his son, Dan Bussani, who is a co-owner and CEO, and who has been involved in the business his entire life. Today, Bussani has two locations on Long Island (one in Nassau and one in Suffolk) and one location in Westchester, New York. Dan Bussani shares ownership of the company with co-owners and long-time employees, Dan Walsh and Stephen Wilmer.

At the time of John Bussani’s retirement, Nassau County District Judge Hon. Robert E. Pipia, who is also a customer and friend of Bussani Mobility, wrote this about him: “John’s development of his business and his hand in the nurturing of the vehicle modification industry, setting the standards to what it has become nationally, and has advanced the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout our country, making people mobile, and most importantly, independent. Where would we be without John’s vision and hard work? Enjoy all the fishing and libations you so richly deserve, John, because you ‘got us there.’”

His Inspiration

When John Bussani received his award, to much applause, he talked about how it “was an incredible honor.” And, he went on to acknowledge some of the people he met early on that made a big impact as he was starting his business.

First, there was Alan Ruprecht, founder of Drive-Master in New Jersey. He would not allow his disability to stop him from driving. So, he fought back and used his ability to create universal hand controls to help him regain his mobility.

The second person who impressed John with his beliefs and business ability was Ralph Braun. He was told he probably would not survive past his early teens, let alone have a job or family. He proved them all wrong. Ralph’s abilities rose above his physical challenges to create products for his own use that, over time, became the world-class industry leader, BraunAbility.

And third, was Peter Zarba, who started as a customer and then worked for Bussani Mobility for 30 years. He inspired everyone who met him, and led the way by playing quad rugby, marathons, kayaking, fishing, and even skydiving ─ always putting abilities above disabilities. He said: “Pete was a daily reminder of what we (all of us in the mobility industry) work for, improving quality of life for people.”

Parting Words
John went on to say that these three unique people ─ Alan, Ralph and Peter ─ “were all told that their prospects were limited, but they saw beyond that. They saw the truth behind it, which was that they had abilities to live very useful and productive lives.

“In summary, we in this industry, are blessed on a daily basis to touch so many lives and help people achieve mobility freedom. We offer people products and services that are truly life-changing. So, keep it up, guys.”
John, everyone here at Bussani Mobility, is so grateful to you and proud of you!