IMPACT – Esther K

We received Esther’s initial inquiry on January 21, 2023: 

email subject: “help”



I am a 27 year old woman who is a quadriplegic since a brain stem tumor surgery I want to get a home gym to motivate myself can you please help me

That was it. 

As is our standard practice, we offered to get on a phone call with her to learn more about her challenge, her goals, and what equipment she thinks she wants/needs to make that happen. But she told us that she has a tracheotomy tube and she can’t talk, so we exchanged a few emails about applying to IM ABLE for a grant. That’s when she hit us with this: “I’m semi paralyzed from a brain stem tumor surgery at the age of 10. I also have a tracheostomy. I’ve been depressed and angry at my situation the past few years seeing everyone move on with jobs, getting married, kids, buying a house, but I have decided to pull myself out of misery and start to exercise and eat better but I don’t have any money to buy the equipment I need. I want this to be a surprise. I want to show my family that I can do something for myself.”  (our emphasis) She wanted an EvolutionVN in-home exercise station. It’s specifically designed for people with disabilities and their website has a bunch of videos of exercises she could do.

That hit us hard. Imagine being paralyzed at 10 years old from a surgery and being entirely dependent, seeing all of your childhood friends go out into the world and leaving you on the couch. All day, every day on the couch. Plus, we found out that her sister basically gave up her own aspirations to be a full-time caretaker of Esther since her parents are pushing 70. We knew we had to help her; we had to help all of them.

Back up to 2020 for a sec. Norbert H applied to IM ABLE for a handcycle so he could pursue his goal of becoming a Paralympian.  A few years prior, he tried to do a flip into a pool, had second thoughts as he leapt, and broke his back on the edge paralyzing himself for life at 19 years old. He lives on Long Island. At some point while he was in the process of his grant application, he saw a post on social media that a random social media connection named Derrick, an accomplished triathlete also in Long Island, was doing the 4 x 4 x 48 Challenge.

The 4 x 4 x 48 is an endurance challenge created by ex-Navy SEAL, author, and accomplished athlete David Goggins:

Run 4 miles (or complete ~45 minutes of a different exercise), every 4 hours, for 48 hours. That’s a total of 48 miles run over the course of two days.

Norbert, in a push-rim racing wheelchair, joined Derrick and a few other people for one of those runs.

Derrick and Norbert after one leg of the 4 x 4 x 48 Challenge

Derrick was inspired by Norbert’s story and his grit and decided to do a fundraiser to help him accomplish his goal of becoming a Paralympian. IM ABLE hosted the crowdfunding and they pumped it out on their social medias. That fundraiser had 69 donations for a total of over $4,000. 

Norbert was considering the best way to use those funds and chose to start his own non-profit with a similar mission as IM ABLE, to get expensive equipment to adaptive athletes. He started the Still Standing Foundation in 2022 with the help of Derrick and a few other friends. They have been looking for their first grant recipient since. We called them and asked if they wanted to be part of this grant, to co-present the equipment to Esther. They were equally impressed with Esther’s story. Derrick went to Brooklyn to meet Esther and evaluate her house to make sure the equipment would fit. He called us on the way home just ecstatic to be a part of getting her moving. (she told her parents he was coming about 5 minutes before he knocked on their door lol)

Norbert and IM ABLE Founder/CEO, Chris Kaag

We shared Esther’s story with the BASH attendees and one of our awesome donors reached out to us to say that they were inspired by it. They wanted to make a donation to help Esther get what she needed.

We spoke with the founder of EvolutionVN to learn more about the product, to make sure it’d be the best thing for Esther. They mentioned that they have a trainer on staff. She does remote training sessions so we added on five hours of one-on-one training so Esther could  learn how to make the best of the equipment.

We met Derrick and his wife at Esther’s house on June 9th to deliver and assemble the Evolution VN in-home exercise station with an optional glove to help her grip the elastic bands better, until her strength improves. Esther could barely wait to try it as we assembled it in their dining room. As soon as it was ready, her family helped her into position to start exercising. We were there for about an hour and left her exhausted from her first exercise in a long time.

Esther sent us this that evening: 

Hi everyone 

Thank you so much for making my day! I really appreciate what you did for me, all of the driving and giving up your time and money to make my day! I will always remember that ❤️

I used the evolutionvn more on Saturday and Sunday and the grip glove Is excellent 👌👍 love it because it makes me feel like I can do something and not just sit by my phone and laptop and watch TV shows and eat I can’t wait for my PT to see it.

May God bless You

Esther and her Father, getting active!

And then this a few days later:

Thank you so much for what you did for me on Friday, I really appreciate you giving up your time and money for me, I know that you had a long drive coming to me and sitting in traffic. 

Thank you for perseverance and tirelessly working on my behalf, finding and connecting me with Derrick and Still Standing Foundation.

I used the evolutionvn over the weekend and really loved it ❤️

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to repay you.

May God bless you!

Esther K

We told her that we did our part, now it’s on her to get moving, to get stronger. We have no doubt that she will.


Our generous donors and volunteers made this possible and we can’t thank them enough.