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Debbie N. | Via Rider

When a three-year-old child discharged an unattended handgun at a friend’s home, the bullet landed in Debbie’s back, severing her spine.

Until that accidental shooting on a Friday night in 1991, Debbie was an active, hard-working divorcee raising her two children by herself. She valued her independence above all else.

She quickly adapted to her new mobility limitations. She had to relearn everything, including how to cook, how to drive with hand controls and how to garden. She supported herself, proudly avoiding disability assistance, for years after the shooting. But in 2012, Debbie began having debilitating health problems which eventually led to her being unable to work or drive. She moved from her lifetime home in Pennsylvania to Longmont so she could live with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.

Now, Debbie stays active in her community. She enjoys drumming and making frequent visits to the local airport, where she likes to eat breakfast from the food truck while she watches planes take off and land, and skydivers float downward. She says the airport’s wide open spaces give her a sense of peace. When she can’t be out and about, she creates handmade cards which she donates to multiple charities.

She continues to fight being defined by her wheelchair. Hear Debbie’s story in her own words over on our YouTube channel.

In 2019, Debbie joined both Via’s Rider Advisory Council and Board of Directors.


Via helps our riders maintain their independence and self-sufficiency despite difficult, and often unpredictable, circumstances. We help those who do not drive, regardless of age or disability, access health care, shop for groceries, get to work, and participate in our community.

Our clients often tell us that Via is their lifeline. With a donation, you are part of their story, visit ViaColorado.org/Give.