Dubuque man with no arms and legs finally has freedom - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque man with no arms and legs finally has freedom

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It started with a simple request from family members, and has resulted in new found freedom for one Dubuque man.

Jake Hesselman was born with a rare condition that's left him with no arms and legs.

But a family member started a fundraising effort to get a specialized van for the man, hoping to give him the chance to be as independent as his peers.

That fundraising effort was successful, and now Hesselman has his van, which he said cost right around $100,000.

"The independence is so awesome. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want," he said.

Jake is able to operate everything in the vehicle without ever leaving his wheelchair.

From opening the door, to steering with the joystick, Hesselman not only has his freedom, but he's learning lessons on the road very quickly.

"The amount of people that don't use turn signals is a huge surprise as well," he said.

He's able to control things like the turn signal and windshield wipers from his headrest.

These modifications allow him to be the driver instead of the rider all the time.

"I can hang out with my buddies. And I can even drive them, and that's the coolest part, cause they've always been driving me around. So It's like, you get in, I'm driving this time," he said.

Those buddies, though, say there are still some growing pains.

"They think I'm horrible. They're like, oh you're just a 16 year old driving. I'm like, okay. I want to see you guys drive a vehicle with joystick," he said.

Jake says he's so thankful to the Dubuque community, and to the people across the U.S. who made this possible.

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