Local man pleased with brand new ramp to his family’s home

(Harley Vargas, a client at Sunflower Diversified Services, is flanked by two of the people who helped him get a new ramp. Ryan Robl of Sunflower and Christine Martinez of United Healthcare teamed up for the project.)

Clients at Sunflower Diversified Services are always encouraged to advocate for themselves, and Harley Vargas took the advice to heart.

Vargas needed a new ramp at his family’s Great Bend home and asked for it. Now he has better access to his front door and couldn’t be more pleased.

The 26-year-old man has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair; he receives case-management and day services at Sunflower, and works weekdays at the non-profit agency’s manufacturing plant.

Tom Vargas, Harley’s dad, said his son “is very happy and feels safer on his new ramp. We really appreciate everyone who helped us get this done.”

Tom, who works for Concrete Service in Great Bend, didn’t just sit by as the ramp was being constructed. He pitched in and used his professional skills to help pour the concrete.

Because of this concrete and the new roof over the ramp, Harley doesn’t have to try to maneuver through mud and snow, and he is sheltered from the elements.

The project got underway when Harley asked Ryan Robl, Sunflower case manager, for advice about building a new ramp. Robl then contacted Christine Martinez, care coordinator at United Healthcare, which is one of three managed care organizations (MCOs) in the state.

“We are especially impressed with Harley for advocating for himself,” Robl said. “Harley’s verbal skills are limited but he got his message across. He saw a need and reached out to us.

“Christine at United Healthcare immediately took the request and started working to make sure Harley got a new and safe ramp,” Robl continued. “It is so important for Sunflower and MCOs to build a rapport with one another. This teamwork leads directly to providing services and equipment to people with disabilities.”

Martinez said when she learned about Harley’s apprehension about the safety of the old ramp, she took steps to have the project evaluated and approved as quickly as possible.

“It was well worth it,” Martinez said. “The glow on Harley’s face made my day. It was the face of pure joy and happiness.”

Wineteer Construction/Life Wise Renovations, based in Prairie Village, was the contractor.

Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 54th year.

(A new ramp is constructed at the home of Harley Vargas and his family.)

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