The idea of converting a van brings certain images to mind: freedom, adventure and the open road. For Ryan and Kim St. Lawrence, converting their Sprinter van means that and so much more. Originally from New Hampshire, Ryan was an aspiring professional mountain bike racer when he suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the summer of 2016 rendering him unable to use his legs. Ryan maintains a positive perspective on the situation and feels fortunate to have been injured while pursuing his passion- better to get injured while doing what you love than to never get to have that experience. His motivation to continue living the same lifestyle as prior to the injury is inspiring.

Gaining Independence

This Mercedes Sprinter van is Ryan’s first major step towards gaining back his independence since the accident. The idea behind the sprinter buildout was to provide access and comfort anywhere and anytime. Having to find handicap accessible hotels or other accommodations while on the road is difficult and tiresome; with this van Ryan is able to have exactly what he needs-when and where he needs it. Aptly named “Freedom”, Ryan and Kim’s outfitted van functions as their home on wheels. They can comfortably travel the open road without having to worry about finding handicap accessible hotels to stay in, or trek deep into the backwoods to camp or get to the next bike race.

The Custom Design

Each and every member of the TOURIG team was thrilled to take on this conversion project for Ryan and Kim. “Freedom” was the first build designed to include a wheelchair lift. The ergonomics were developed in a fashion where the controls for the dimmer, heater and electronic switches are centralized and located in the main living area of the van to provide easy accessibility. Additionally, remote control battery switches were designed to start power when needed from anywhere inside the van. The living space is comfortable and convenient with a cushioned platform that lies flat against the wall and can be converted into both a couch or a bed. TOURIG custom designed the layout so that the wheelchair can be parked and securely stored either by the driver’s seat or the couch. Finally, we set up an auxiliary solar plug on the front of the van for easy-to-reach access.

Ryan and Kim came to pick up their van in January of 2018 and hit the road, bound for California to meet up with the Hi5 Foundation in Truckee. You can follow Ryan and Kim’s Sprinter van adventures on Instagram (@nh_sprinter) to be inspired by their incredible story and passion for living life to the fullest.