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.
On 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.
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.’”
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.”
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!
Congrats to US Army Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Hackett of Oswego, NY, on being presented with his new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid equipped with special steering controls and pedals that can all be used with his left foot. Governor Cuomo awarded him the vehicle at the NY International Auto Show.
Here’s the story that ran in The Bronx Chronicle on March 27…
Ten-day event expected to generate $300 million in economic activity across New York
Yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo kicked off the official opening of the 116th Annual New York International Automobile Show at the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side. The Governor drove a Silver Camaro ZL1 Convertible in a brief parade to kick-off the opening ceremony. More than one million visitors are expected to attend the ten-day event, the largest show of its kind in the country. The show features nearly one thousand of the world’s latest automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and concept cars at the convention center and is expected to generate more than $300 million in economic activity for the Empire State.
“The New York Auto Show is a time-honored tradition that continues to serve as an important economic generator for the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said. “By showcasing the industry’s best manufacturers and state-of-the-art designs all under one roof, this event keeps visitors and car enthusiasts like myself coming back year after year.”
The opening ceremony included celebrity appearances, musical performances, and was highlighted by the donation of a brand new SUV to an Afghanistan War hero who was injured in combat.
Toyota and the New York International Auto Show joined forces to celebrate and honor US Army Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Hackett of Oswego County, New York. Toyota is donating a 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to. Hackett lost his right leg and suffered serious injuries all over his body due to an IED explosion that happened when he and his fellow soldiers were clearing a house in Afghanistan in 2011.
Governor Cuomo awarded SFC Hackett with an honorary license plate for his new RAV4. To assist Hackett, the Bussani Mobility Team of Bethpage, N.Y., equipped the RAV 4 with special steering controls and pedals that all can be used with a left foot. During his 19 years of military service, Hackett earned more than a dozen awards, including the Bronx Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.
We’re just a few days away from the 11th Annual NYCSCIA Mardi Gras Fundraiser and there are so many new surprises lined up, it’s hard to pick just one to tell you about…the amazing light show, the caricature artist, the authentic Zydeco Band or the moon pies and king cakes for dessert. It’s a New Orleans theme.
You will just have to come and see for yourself on March 24th at Slate, 54 W 21st Street, NYC from 6 pm until 10 pm.
Victor Calise, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, will be receiving the very first Peter Zarba Humanitarian Award. Named in memory of our very dear friend, this award is given in recognition of the person, group or organization that best exemplifies service, dedication and passion for helping people with spinal cord injuries maximize their independence and quality of life.
As a passionate advocate for inclusion, accessibility and the healing power of adaptive sports, Victor has shown through his professional career, volunteer activities and personal example what true independence is and serves as a role model for the entire SCI community. Molly Zarba and Dan Bussani will be on hand to help make the presentation.
Tickets are available for $30 in advance or $40 at the door. Tickets can be
The winners of the “National Mobility Awareness Month” contest have been announced — and each of them has been awarded a customized wheelchair accessible van! They are:
• Alberto Cruz (from Connecticut) – Last summer, the 15-year-old became paralyzed while surfing on Narragansett Beach, R.I. Despite grueling therapy sessions after the accident, Cruz chose to continue his schooling and remain connected with his community. This moved his teacher, Lynn Frazier, who nominated him as a Local Hero. “Heroes attract other heroes. Alberto’s courage touched something deep inside my students and their families,” said Frazier. “It planted a seed of hope in our community.”
• Ken Davert (from Michigan) – Managing his own cerebral palsy, Ken and his family are also coping with wife Missy’s and their 13-year-old twins’ (Austin and Michaela) osteogenesis imperfecta (which is a brittle bone condition). The family is active in their community from Michaela in Girl Scouts to Missy as a life-long advocate for people with disabilities.
• Ron Miner (from Illinois) – Miner is a disabled, U.S. Army veteran who was injured during active duty. After the incident, he became depressed. However, upon hearing about a wheelchair bodybuilding competition, he resolved to turn his life around. With intense training, he became a Wheelchair Bodybuilding Champion and won numerous gold medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Today, he is an activist for those with disabilities.
If you want to hear more about their stories, click here.
Each winner will take ownership of their vans, valued at $40,000 each, later this summer. Sponsors Toyota, SanTan Honda in Chandler, Ariz. and Chrysler came together to provide the vehicles, which will now be modified by NMEDA member manufacturers – BraunAbility and Vantage Mobility International.
This was the first year of the contest, which was sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). It drew in more than 1,700 entries and 1.2 million votes were cast online. The purpose was to spread the word among seniors, veterans and people with disabilities across the U.S. and Canada that a variety of mobility options are available to help them lead more independent lives.
Bussani Mobility Team wants to thank all of our customers who participated in the contest.
We feel so honored that when “the envelope was opened” at NMEDA’s (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) 21st annual conference in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago…our VP Daniel Bussani was honored with the Shining Star Award!
Dave Hubbard (Director, NMEDA) and Daniel Bussani (Vice President, Bussani Mobility Team)
For the past 10 years, NMEDA has presented the award to recognize individuals for their outstanding support of the organization and its mission.
Dave Hubbard, Director of NMEDA, said of this year’s award: “We chose Dan because we wanted to acknowledge his role in bringing more awareness to mobility solutions in the New York area. He was very instrumental in organizing the participation of New York dealers in our booth at the New York International Auto Show coming up this April. Dan is a great supporter, full of energy and very generous with his time. He does a lot of work in the community and is an all-around good guy. We’re proud to know and work with him.”