Like many Americans, Darren Appleman dreams of owning his own home. Darren is a mature and responsible forty-six year old man who was dealt an astonishingly difficult hand in life. At the age of five, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.
Although he wasn’t old enough to comprehend how this debilitating disease would affect his life, his parents knew, and their hearts broke for him. His father, a Vietnam Veteran of the US Army 1st Infantry Division, devoted his life to the care of his only son. Both of Darren’s parents committed to giving him the childhood that he deserved, and they raised him to reach for the stars and not allow his disease to define or defeat him.
Despite unconditional love and support from his family, Darren took his last step at just nine years old. Rather than being discouraged by this, he chose to overcome many obstacles, and in 1988 he was the 1st person ever to graduate from Pickerington High School in a wheelchair. With a sharp mind and a willing heart, Darren has helped other people in many ways, including volunteering to participate in drug studies for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as well as helping educate OSU medical students by using his condition as an example.
Darren is determined and steadfast. He refuses to give up the hope of living a normal life. Darren was placed on a ventilation system at the age of 19 and can only move his eyes, mouth and his left thumb. Have these setbacks defeated him? Absolutely not! After Darren’s father encountered a medical condition in 2005, Darren realized that his Dad might not always be able to care for him, so he decided to reach out and find alternative care.
Darren began utilizing the Home Health Care Waiver program, and in 2007 he decided that he wanted to live independently like other people his age. He was able to get an apartment and has successfully managed the responsibilities involved with it for the last nine years. He receives round the clock nursing care because of his physical limitations, however he is mentally able to maintain his independent status.
Darren would love to get up every day and go to work, but the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation told him in 2012 that he was “too disabled” to work. Darren would love to do a lot of things that many people take for granted, like being able to access all the rooms in his home. His apartment is very limiting with regards to his wheelchair. He is unable to move around in the kitchen, and cannot enter the bathroom at all. He has a private porch behind the apartment, but isn’t able to use that exit. So he spends most of his time confined to two rooms.
Due to Darren’s limited income, the only way he would be able to afford a home that is completely wheelchair accessible is with our help. He is truly an outstanding man with determination like no other. Darren has had a very challengingly life and yet has persevered through it all. He wasn’t given a fair shot, but with our help he can live the American dream of homeownership.