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Bump in the road: New set of wheels keeps local family rolling


Dylan Domer, 22, and his mother, Helen, who live just outside of Dalton, are grateful for the van they purchased from 
Jude and Sandee Russo who drove it to Wayne County from New Jersey.

Members of three families who had never met in person as a group before strengthened their friendship over a unique van transaction and had some fun in a “Brady Bunch” inspired photo. From left: Darrell and Helen Domer, Ed and Sharon Starling, and Jude and Sandee Russo.

SUGAR CREEK TWP.  A need for a new vehicle brought two families together from different states this summer.

The Domer family’s aging van needed repairs. The air conditioning no longer worked. One door wouldn’t open unless another was opened first.

Darrell and Helen Domer began to research and look for a new van. They agreed a rear-loading van instead of their side-entry vehicle would be nice to accommodate their 22-year-old son’s wheelchair.

A new set of wheels was becoming a priority this year. A wheelchair user since he was a toddler, Dylan Domer had places he needed to be – even during the COVID-19 crisis.

A reliable van would make life a little bit easier for the family.

Last month, the Domers purchased a van that had been owned by a family in New Jersey. It had everything the Domers were looking for. The pandemic caused the transaction to take a little longer than both parties expected, but in the process, a strong bond and friendship was forged between families.

“There are just so many things that have happened to get it here,” Helen Domer wrote in an email to the Gazette & News.

Sadly, the circumstances surrounding the van being sold in the first place are heartbreaking. Sandee and Jude Russo lost their 27-year-old son after he contracted COVID-19 in the spring. It was difficult to part with the van that had transported their son and had become an important tool in their lives.

“I wish we would have been able to get together under better reasons,” Helen Domer said. “It was so nice to meet them and we spent a couple of days with them.”

Read the complete story in the Aug. 12, 2020 edition.


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