Family & Friends
By Rose Bivens, F55353
Richard and Loretta Trulson, F342395, of Ardmore, Alabama, used to do much of their traveling by air. That should come as no surprise, since he is a licensed pilot and owns his own aviation company, and both of them are certified airplane mechanics. They are only the second husband-and-wife team to have that distinction in the state of Alabama.
But on January 26, 2002, a near-fatal accident changed Richard’s ideas about traveling. He and his brother were in his shop welding a large barbecue grill for their church when it suddenly toppled over and fell on Richard’s legs, hitting him just above the ankles. One of his feet was completely severed; the other hung by a tendon.
Richard had the presence of mind to tell his brother to grab some tie-wraps to use as tourniquets, and some inhalants, which helped to keep him conscious on the ride to a nearby hospital. After being stabilized in the emergency room, Richard and his doctors discussed his options and decided to amputate both legs between the knee and the ankle.
Once Richard realized he was going to survive, he made up his mind that he was going to travel to as many parts of the United States as possible, any way he could.
Doctors told him he would not be able to walk for at least 18 months “” maybe longer “” but that didn’t deter him. Before he could even walk on his prosthetic legs, he began looking for a motorhome. Crawling on padded knees, he checked out a 1978 GMC motorhome, which became the Trulsons’ first coach.
In just 13 weeks Richard was ambulatory, and shortly after that he and Loretta took a trip to Alaska. They replaced their GMC with an Itasca and took a second trip to California and Mexico. Richard delights in telling people that he walked across the border. The couple now travels in a 40-foot Winnebago Vectra and tows a Jeep Liberty on a trailer. The only modification Richard has had to make to the motorhome for driving has been the addition of a short piece of two-by-six on the floor in front of the accelerator.
Richard hopes that his story might give some hope and inspiration to the injured military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are in need of prostheses. His sense of humor has certainly played a large part in his recovery. He laughingly calls his second set of prostheses his “sea legs,” aptly named for the brightly colored aquatic creatures laminated on them. One is Nemo, the orange animated fish from the movie Finding Nemo, which was included at the request of his niece, Katelyn, along with her picture.
Richard said that there’s not much he can’t do or won’t try, but he does admit that climbing ladders is a little difficult. One advantage, he said, is being able to wear shorts year-round, because his legs don’t get cold, even when visiting Michigan in the winter.
I had a chance to meet the Trulsons when they brought their coach to the Eaton VORAD facility in Michigan. Richard had seen an advertisement for VORAD’s collision warning system for RVs in FMC magazine. The system includes three components. The AlwaysAlert radar system, which has been available for trucks for some time and now is being marketed for motorhomes, provides audible and visible alerts when dangerous obstacles are ahead, even if they can’t be seen in poor visibility conditions or around curves. The SmartCruise cruise control system works with the motorhome’s cruise control to help maintain a safe following distance. The third component, the BlindSpotter, helps drivers recognize when a vehicle is on either side of the motorhome, reducing the possibility of a lane-change collision. (An article about the VORAD system appears beginning on page 68 of this issue.)
After the VORAD system was installed, the Trulsons, two VORAD employees, and I went for a test drive, with Richard piloting the coach. Even though Richard said he hadn’t experienced any problems driving the motorhome before purchasing this safety system, he believes it will help him to be a safer driver and give him and Loretta peace of mind.
After driving with the system for several journeys, he remarked, “It’s the best thing to come around since the inflatable tire. I won’t be without it again.” In fact, he drove from his home in Alabama to Indianapolis, Indiana, and had to use the brakes just three times during the entire trip. Plus, he said that he figured out that he got nearly two more miles to the gallon in fuel economy. This summer he and his wife are caravanning with a group to Alaska, and he said he can’t wait to give the system a real workout.
People with a handicap often have to go deep within themselves and draw on their own strength to overcome adversity. Richard Trulson has done that, and along with his faith, tenacity, sense of humor, and Loretta’s support, he’s overcome all the odds. He’s once again enjoying life to the fullest, enhanced by the newfound pleasure of motorhoming.
Rolling Red Hatters
The Rolling Red Hatters chapter booth won third prize at the Chapter Fair, held on March 21 during FMCA’s 73rd International Convention in Perry, Georgia. The booth was assembled and decorated by Sandy Lugo, F330081; Darlene Decker, F319597; and Sandy Curtin, L14939. During the fair Darlene and Sandy Curtin manned the table, telling interested attendees about the chapter and encouraging them to join.
On the final day of the convention, chapter members gathered at the New Perry Hotel for the Rolling Red Hatters luncheon. During the event the chapter held its business meeting, elected new officers, and collected the annual $5 dues. The prize for best-dressed was given to Darlene Decker, while Ladelle Taylor, F199449, won for the funniest, most original hat. Our lunches were scrumptious and nearly everyone took home a doggie bag, if not for their pet, then for their most-loved spouse. The luncheon was a lovely afternoon of laughter and fellowship and a great way to meet new gals. (Submitted by Karen Kieser, L8827.)