En route to freedom with the Sprinter: Janis McDavid doesn't let anything get in his way.

Janis McDavid is proof that a physical disability need not be a handicap: his specially converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter opens up a world of mobility. 

Taking control.

Limits are only in your head. That's Janis McDavid's perspective on things. The man from the Ruhrpott region in Germany has been a highly-acclaimed speaker and author for the past 27 years, and has already held more than 300 talks in seven different countries. His calling is to motivate people to go beyond their inner and outer limits. In 2016, he published his first book "Dein bestes Leben: Vom Mut, über sich hinauszuwachsen und Unmögliches möglich zu machen" (literally: "Your best life: having the courage to surpass yourself and render the impossible possible") and he remains true to its philosophy day in, day out. Janis was born without arms and legs, and decided to steer his life in a positive direction – and when he does so, he's the one behind the wheel. 

A Sprinter conversion for freedom: Janis McDavid doesn't let anything get in his way.

Janis McDavid was born without arms and legs. But that doesn't stop him from having an invariably positive outlook on life and making the best of his life. Thanks to his converted Sprinter, he drives his van himself and can thus enjoy his own freedom. As a motivational speaker, he has travelled the world and encourages businesses and people to surpass themselves. 

Untamed optimism.

"I don't miss them," says Janis about not having any arms and legs. He achieves his aims in life in his own way. Openly and authentically, he gives talks on overcoming inner hurdles which we place in the way of our own advancement. He motivates others to just get on with things, to be optimistic and to have passion in all they do – and he even takes things a step further: "If something seems a little crazy, then that's exactly why we should give it a go." For many people, it seems unthinkable for a person without any limbs to be sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle. In his teenage years when Janis discovered that there were companies specialising in the conversion of vehicles for people with a disability, he sought about obtaining his driving licence. Today he drives a specially converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter even on longer distances abroad. 

Paravan – mobility solutions for people with a physical disability.

There are around 70 companies in Germany which specialise in building vehicles for people with a disability. Among them is Paravan – a company from southern Germany. The company's founder Roland Arnold was so moved when he once met a helpless disabled person that he decided to set up the Paravan company. His vision was to provide mobility for people with a disability. In this field, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers a great basis and is appropriately adapted and converted to the requirements of the customer by a team of 180 employees. The company premises even houses their own driving school for people with a disability. And it's exactly there that Janis obtained his own driving licence.

 

Impressed.

"If you want to, you can achieve anything!"    

Freedom thanks to the Sprinter.

With his high electric wheelchair, Janis drives into the Sprinter from the rear. The doors open automatically and a ramp lift folds out. What may initially look as though Janis is merely a passenger in the vehicle is deceiving as he'll be taking up his place behind the steering wheel. Limits are actually only in your head. As soon as the electric wheelchair is securely engaged in position, Janis uses his mouth to do what others would do with their hands: he reaches for the keys, moves forwards out of his wheelchair via a padded step and into the driving seat. He even inserts the key using his mouth. Once on the drivers seat, he makes a well-trained turn to reach for the seat belt and then engages it into the mechanism using his head. Acceleration, steering and braking are all carried out with the aid of a joystick which he grips under his armpit. Janis loves the freedom he has when he's on the road in his Sprinter. And when it comes to picking the destination, he's the one who decides. 

A tour around a converted Sprinter: solutions for independent mobility.

Take a look around this specially converted Sprinter from Janis McDavid who was born without arms or legs. Thanks to his converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Janis can drive independently which means he enjoys freedom in its purest form. Features like a ramp for entering the vehicle or a joystick for steering open up a world to Janis which is an aspect of daily life which others take for granted – uninhibited independence.

Individually adapted driving aids:

    Mercedes-Benz offers a large range of individually adapted driving aids for numerous vehicle models ex-factory. People with restricted mobility can have their new vehicle equipped with controls and steering aids, as well as devices specifically for persons with a disability, pedal modifications, entry and exit aids or specially adapted seats – all without the need for time-intensive conversions and all for a fixed price with a full works warranty. Further information can be found here: https://www.mercedes-benz.com/en/driving-aids/

Encouraging.

Janis enjoys his life to the full and seeks to use his own positive outlook on life to encourage others to do the same.    

 

Perfectly tailored.

Automatically opening rear doors and a fold-out ramp lift: all conversions on the Sprinter were tailored to Janis' needs.

Mobile thanks to the Sprinter.

For Janis, driving means the freedom to make decisions for himself.      

Everything is possible. 

With his high electric wheelchair, a number of special tricks and a control joystick under his armpits, Janis can drive on the roads like any other driver.    

Photos:

Louis Cieplik

The conversions shown were made by independent third-party providers. The providers and the conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. The photos in no way serve as an evaluation by Mercedes-Benz of the provider and/or conversions in question.

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