Leaving a Legacy
Wade Harris, a pioneer in the mobility industry and founder of Rollx Vans, died on August 29, 2009 after a lengthy illness.
Wade came from a very humble childhood. His mother died when he was 5 and his father abandoned him, his two brothers and sister. For the next 12 years, Wade bounced among relatives. He worked his way through high school to support himself and was never even sure he graduated.
Perks of Perseverance
Wade went on to embody the true American spirit. He saw opportunities others did not. He opened his first business in 1970, Associated Leasing. He opened four automotive dealerships between 1973 and 1977.
When his son, Tony, was killed in a tragic ski accident in 1978, Wade searched to find meaning in his death. He and his wife, Nancy, donated their son’s memorials to fund a small transportation company for the disabled and senior communities. He pledged two fully accessible Dodge vans and $50,000. Handicapped and Senior Citizen’s Transportation Service (HSCTS) was created. Over the next three years, HSCTS provided more than 680,000 free rides to wheelchair users and senior citizens in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
Wade saw an unmet need in the mobility industry and started modifying vehicles for wheelchair and scooter users. Associated Leasing evolved into a small manufacturing company that modified full-sized vans for people in wheelchairs. The organization eventually became what is now Rollx Vans.
Giving Back & Changing Lives
Wade wanted the wheelchair community to be treated like all others, while receiving exceptional choice and service. As a result, Rollx Vans sold directly to the consumer and provided At-Home Service in many areas of the United States. The level of choice and service his company provided had not been seen in the industry, and it dramatically improved the lives of many in the disabled community.
Wade was a true patriot. He was grateful for his country and fellow Americans. In 2004, he created a charitable program within his company called Wounded Warriors. The program has provided the free use of accessible vans to veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq who were injured and required lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. The program allowed many veterans to return home with their families much sooner and have transportation to and from rehabilitation sites and medical clinics. To date, more than 200 injured veterans have been helped through this program.
Wade also took pride in contributing to other organizations via Rollx Vans, including:
- The MS Society – Provided more than 30 vans each year to support their events.
- The Muscular Dystrophy Association – Donated more than $45,000 in 2008 and 2009.
- Paralyzed Veterans Games – Served as a national sponsor of the PVA Games, and provided vans to transport veterans to and from the PVA Trap shoots.
- ALS, United Cerebral Palsy, and many others.
Wade came from nothing – but he found a way to make a lasting difference. His love, support, and generosity seemed to have no end.
He will be missed dearly; however, Wade’s legacy will live on through Rollx Vans and the charitable programs he established. His committed efforts will continue to dramatically impact and improve the lives of so many – for many years to come.