Talli Osborne: ‘I will never take my ability to drive for granted’
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I have always strived to be independent. Growing up, I went on sleepovers and overnight camp, I skied and even participated in a two-week outward bound wilderness excursion, where I hiked, camped, portaged and even did a 24-hour solo course.
As I became an adult, I craved even more independence and freedom. I wanted to do and go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. And, I have completely achieved this goal except for one thing: driving.
Though I was born missing both of my arms and with shortened legs, standing at just over three-foot-five-inches tall, the reason I don’t have my license is not why you may think. I always knew that physically I would be able to drive, but for someone like me, it’s way more expensive.
Being able to drive means complete independence. It means I can get to my motivational speaking engagements on my own, I can visit my family who live in another city and I can go on spontaneous road trips with my friends. Driving myself means not feeling anxious or guilty every time I need to ask someone for a ride.
Like I said, driving was the one part of my independence I hadn’t yet achieved. As a Taurus, I’m a bit stubborn, so, in 2017, I decided I was going to start this journey and conquer any challenges that come.
The first step was getting assessed by an occupational therapist. Whether I can physically drive safely was up to them. This assessment starts at $1,000. This cost has always been the biggest deterrent for me. It is a lot of money, but I was determined.
Throughout the assessment we discussed how my body works and which modifications could work best for me. I sat in a car and I even got to drive a SUV that already had extended pedals installed. I drove a car! It was very exciting.
After the assessment was complete, the Ministry of Transportation was notified that I would be able drive with specific modifications. I was excited that I’d completed the first step and I was ready to continue on this journey. I immediately started studying for my learners permit and passed it with flying colours. I was 37 and I finally had my G1.
Now, let’s take a minute to talk about my dream car. I have wanted an Austin Mini since I was about 15 years old. I’m a mini person, so I obviously need a mini car. An Austin Mini would be a bit harder to modify, so I decided on a Mini Cooper instead.
After purchasing my dream car, I felt like I was almost there. But my excitement (and the entire process) came to a sudden halt when I received a quote of almost $100,000 to modify the vehicle. I’m not even kidding. I definitely couldn’t afford this and was left so discouraged.
Four years later, my car sits unmodified, and I still can’t drive it. Some people suggest maybe I sell the Mini, since I’m paying for it and car insurance monthly. But if I sell that car, I’m giving up on my dream and I refuse to do that. I am completely determined to get that car modified and to one day go on a road trip to California. It’s going to happen, mark my words. And I promise you, when that day comes, I’m going to be so generous with driving my friends and family places. I will never take my ability to drive for granted. Not ever.
Talli Osborne Special to Wheels.ca
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