Van Raam produces uniquely special needs bicycles and specializes in tricycles, transport bikes, scooterbikes, wheelchair bikes, tandem bikes, double rider bikes, and low step trough bikes (also known as comfortbikes). Each model is also available as an electric bike (Pedelec).
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Johan Smith (45) lives with his wife and 5 children in Mariënberg. He works as a service technician and is the breadwinner of the family, until Johan has an accident in 2011 and has to go through extensive rehabilitation. At that time Johan's wife is 8 months pregnant and the life of the whole family turns upside down.
"I had just finished working on my motorcycle and I decided to go for a ride. While I'm riding I get hit by a car." Johan wakes up in the ICU with his lower left leg amputated, left arm paralyzed and permanent brain damage.
"I was breadwinner of a family with a wife and 5 children. How do you move forward when something like this happens?" Ellen, his wife, is at that time 8 months pregnant with the 6th. She is suddenly a mother and father at the same time. Fortunately, Ellen is a strong woman and perseveres. A month later she gives birth to their son, Robert. Johan is driven by ambulance to the hospital to be there. Afterwards, he has to go back to the rehabilitation center.
For 1,5 years Johan has been busy with rehabilitation. The first six months internally from the hospital and rehabilitation center, then from home. "At first you can hardly do anything and you need help with everything. Fortunately, we have a close-knit community around us and everyone was willing to help." But in his recovery after returning home, like many others, he became entangled and had to find a way through the maze of regulations and agencies. And he was eager to get back into the family. But he also saw opportunities during his recovery process, he stays positive: "You have to pick yourself up. After a period in the hospital and rehabilitation at the Vogellanden, the means of transport came up for discussion. An application was made to the municipality for a tricycle and in November 2011 I received my first Van Raam Easy Sport."
"A bright green color, a platform for my prosthesis, 8 gears and a handlebar under the saddle that I can operate with one hand. After a while, direction indicators and pedal assistance were added, so that I can still cycle with my limited energy for a reasonable length of time." Johan's experience with the Easy Sport is positive: "To me, a bike means freedom, the wind in my hair and being outside. And shopping is fine. Take your mind off things. And if something is broken, an appointment is scheduled and the Easy Sport is repaired."
"By now I have my second Easy Sport. I have had this one since November 2019. This time matte black with white. A beautiful bike, again with options adapted to my limitations. A comfort seat, foot fixation, silent electro, lighting over the electro system, mirror and 8 speed freewheel. For me, cycling is a beautiful form of relaxation. We live in a beautiful region with forests, fields and meadows. A nice outlet to not stay locked in your limitations but get new inspiration."
"I still find it difficult that I am no longer the father I was. Spontaneous activities with my family are difficult, I sometimes need some time to think about what I can and cannot do." But Johan remains positive and perseveres. 10 years later, he is still doing odd jobs, almost like he used to. He is also an assistant at a care farm and gives lectures about his accident. "I want to show others that regardless of your situation you can always pick yourself up and achieve something. I am a grateful person. And I cycle with great pleasure. It's fantastic that Van Raam makes such beautiful bikes! I would love to visit Van Raam sometime."
Johan Smith - Mariënberg
Bike: Easy Sport recumbent trike
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