Family of abused quadriplegic thanks community for new van |

Family of abused quadriplegic thanks community for new van

Sandi Hoover

A 22-year-old quadriplegic man who was abused last year by his Yerington caretaker has received enough donations to be able to replace his broken-down handicapped-accessible van.

In a July letter to the editor of the Nevada Appeal requesting help for Gardnerville’s Brandon Winberg, family and friends pleaded for help to replace the van, which is necessary for transporting Brandon to medical and therapy appointments, according to family friend, Sue Bennett.

“Brandon is a wheelchair-bound, completely helpless young man who suffers from cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia resulting from an illness when he was a few weeks old,” Bennett wrote. “Brandon is a happy, responsive young man who doesn’t know life has cheated him.”

She explained that Brandon’s parents made the commitment not to institutionalize him. “They chose to love and care for him at home and give him the best life possible. It is a tremendous responsibility, taken on gladly. He requires constant care, a special motorized wheelchair – his current one no longer fits him – a lift system and a specially equipped handicap van. The only way they can get him to doctors’ appointments or include him in family outings is in a borrowed bus equipped with a lift,” she wrote.

“We were really impressed and shocked as far as the cooperation we received,” said Brandon’s father, Fred Winberg. “Brandon is really enjoying it. It’s got a really good stereo and he loves to rock out,” Winberg said.

“It’s also been really nice not having to physically lift him in and out of the car all the time. It really gets to you after awhile,” he said.

Brandon’s plight became public in July after The Record-Courier published a story about of the conviction of Barry Paulison, 32, on a gross-misdeanor charge of abuse of a vulnerable person, for a crime that occurred in December 2010.

An account was opened at Greater Nevada Credit Union named “Wheels for Brandon,” Bennett said, and since then, enough donations from the public have come in to afford to buy a 2003 fully equipped Chrysler mini-van.

“Since there were no names included in the many donations made to this account, we would like to publicly share our thanks and awe at the response from people who cared enough to help,” Bennett said.

The van cost $12,500 and had only 51,000 miles on it, Winberg said. The Winberg family and their friends the Bennetts called the people of Douglas, Carson and Washoe counties “wonderful and generous,” Bennett said.

“Words cannot express how blessed we feel that we live in such a kind and giving community. We will be closing the account, since our desperate wish has been granted. Thank you to all who helped. We had no idea that this would be possible,” she said.

The Winberg family is working with Assemblyman Kelly Kite, R-Minden, to have the crime of abuse of a vulnerable person made a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison. The Legislature has already done that for the elderly and children.