NDAD supports North Dakotans with health challenges

Submitted Photo Volunteers for NDAD’s 2019 Escape to the Lake Extravaganza assist a participant in the water.

The North Dakota Association for the Disabled (NDAD) is a private nonprofit organization that sets out to increase the quality of life for people with medical health challenges.

“Our mission statement is, ‘Enhancing the quality of life of people facing health challenges,’ not just disability challenges, all health challenges,” said Marsha Dupre, Minot’s NDAD client services representative.

Andrea Hanson, a Minot client of NDAD for two years, travels to Rochester, Minnesota, every three months for medical treatment for congestive heart failure. She also has Turner’s syndrome and diabetes. NDAD helps her by covering travel expenses such as gas and hotel costs through its direct financial assistance program. When Hanson’s state-provided insurance doesn’t cover her diabetes testing equipment, NDAD is there to fill the gaps.

“I don’t have to worry about, ‘How am I going to pay for this?’ (NDAD) makes sure that my tests are getting paid for. They’re really helpful. Very helpful. They have really good resources. If they can’t help you, they know of other resources that can,” Hanson said.

NDAD is a last resort agency. It helps individuals with expenses that may not be covered by Medicare or Medicaid or their private insurance. It services the entire state with regional offices in Minot, Fargo, Grand Forks, Williston and are soon to be opening a physical office in Dickinson.

“Our goal is to help them through their challenges through reaching out to other agencies. We do a lot of networking and advocacy and referrals and provide a lot of information to our clients,” Dupre said.

For individuals who financially qualify, NDAD offers direct financial assistance. NDAD assists with filling prescription medications, the purchase of medical equipment and supplies, personal attendant care and local accessible transportation. For clients who need to travel out of town for medical care, NDAD will pay for gas and lodging.

In addition to direct financial assistance, NDAD offers a wide variety of services, the most popular being the Healthcare Equipment Loan Program (HELP). HELP is a program with no financial requirements, targeted to help individuals who are recovering from surgery, an injury or have a short illness. Individuals who want to try equipment can borrow canes, knee scooters, walkers and more for up to 90 days at no cost. According to its 2022 annual report, NDAD saved North Dakotans more than $569,882 by loaning 4,436 pieces of equipment.

NDAD also offers an accessible van loan program. The van program isn’t restricted to medical travel, but includes any purpose that enhances clients’ quality of life. NDAD has three wheelchair-accessible vans available in the state — two in Grand Forks and one in Minot. With the vans serving such a large area, they’re in high demand.

“I get people from Bismarck that have a wedding coming up and they want to get Grandma to that wedding. They come to Minot, leave their car here, take the van, go back to Bismarck, take Grandma to the wedding, and come back (to Minot) to get their car again. We loan them out for special purposes because we want these people to maintain quality of life,” said Dupre.

For individuals with larger needs, NDAD can also assist with planning community fundraisers and provides promotional items such as posters, table tents and free marketing consultation. NDAD acts as a custodian of the funds raised and pays approved bills and expenses on behalf of the individual. Doing so protects eligibility for public income-based programs. NDAD recently started matching 20% of funds raised in the first 30 days, up to $3,000.

“The fundraisers really act as a huge personal boost to the people who are receiving the help. All the family and friends, sometimes people they haven’t seen in a long time, come out to help them is an enormous benefit. NDAD has long been grateful to just be a part of helping them do that,” said Mike Brue, NDAD communications director.

In pursuit of its mission to bring quality of life to those with health difficulties, NDAD hosts its annual Escape to the Lake Extravaganza. Escape to the Lake is a day consisting of adaptive water skiing, pontoon rides, a picnic lunch and a ski show put on by the Aberdeen Aqua Addicts. This year’s Escape to the Lake is scheduled for June 17 at the Nelson Lake Recreation Area near Center.


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