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Letter to the CEO, Ford Motor Company, Mercury Division
to the CEO and President of Ford Motor CompanyWilliam Clay Ford, Jr.

Disability Awareness & Character Development

a letter written to William Clay Ford, Jr.
(though I am still awaiting his kind response, as of mid-Jan 2003)

Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers University, Cook College
14 College Farm Road, Room 243
New Brunswick, N.J. 08901-8551
November 20, 2002

William Clay Ford, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, Michigan 48126

Dear Mr. Ford,

As this is my very first letter to an automobile manufacturer, it is with pleasure that I am writing to you! I am the proud owner of a white 2.3-liter 1992 Mercury Topaz GS, a car that I have driven for the past seven years, now with over 100K miles on its odometer. My first (and former) car was also a white 1989 Topaz with the same interior color and same engine, so it feels like I have been driving the same car for nearly twelve years! My current Topaz is in top cosmetic and mechanical condition, and I am proud to say that the car has earned seven trophies at the local Ford car shows in my hometown each year. I am thus the proud driver of two Mercury automobiles, and am writing to let you know how pleased I have been with their overall quality and dependability.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I was born with cerebral palsy and developed a profound hearing impairment during my childhood. I am now a motivational speaker who visits elementary, middle, and high schools throughout New Jersey to discuss the perspectives of growing up with a disability. By sharing my experiences with humor, while encouraging my young audiences to ask questions that would help shape a better understanding of people with disabilities, I try to instill a sense of hope, energy, and inspiration that motivates students to realize their own dreams. There is nothing more satisfying than to bring a smile to a childís face, when they discover exciting qualities within themselves and share these qualities with others.

I have been delivering these programs at schools since 1981, when I was only ten years old at the time. Over the years, these awareness programs have been my effort to convince young students that personal success in todayís society does not depend upon your challenges, but rather a steadfast desire to conquer them and be the best person you can possibly be. You see, for seven years of my life, I was virtually in a wheelchair and unable to walk unassisted. But now, I can walk very close to normally and am especially proud to be able to drive a car with regular foot controls! That is exactly the reason why I am fiercely protective of my independence, and thus fiercely protective of the Mercury Topaz I drive, since the car has fulfilled my dream of becoming more independent and self-sufficient! I cannot see myself driving any other car.

The reason why I am writing to you is that I have questions pertaining to my interest in purchasing a new car from either the Ford or Mercury division. Because I visit so many schools all over New Jersey and nearby states, my current Topaz is quickly acquiring more miles than I would prefer to put on the car. I change the oil every 2300 miles because I feel that more frequent oil changes would help prolong the life of the engine. Itís not my choice to get a new car, since I am very happy with my current car, but my parents do not want me to consider a Ford or Mercury vehicle, due to quality problems inherent with other Fords (Taurus, Sable) they have owned. But I am still very passionate about acquiring a super low-mileage Mercury Topaz that I am writing to you for your suggestions. I essentially love the car - the engine that sips gas, the ergonomics, the comfortable seating position, the style, the faux laser lightbar for the grille - that my dad even wonders how can I be satisfied on so little (since he unfairly compares it to his 1989 BMW). The Topaz is essentially my BMW - my own ďBright White Mercury!Ē

My dad wants me to consider a Honda or a Toyota because they are more reliable, but perhaps nothing would sway me from my Topaz! What suggestions do you have in mind for me? I would consider a Ford Focus but I feel that it may be a step downwards from the two Mercurys I have driven. I have my heart set on a car that you have not even manufactured for nearly a decade. Which brings me to ask you - perhaps you may have a late-model Mercury Topaz with virtually no mileage on the car. After all, does your company save one new model of every car you build each year, placing it in a warehouse? If so, I would be very interested in purchasing such a car from your company and proudly continuing to drive it to my school programs. I am simply worried that the rubber hoses and gaskets may have dried out and cracked, if a car has not been driven all these years.

Enclosed please find some newspaper articles for your enjoyment! These are articles that describe the school programs that I deliver to students, from kindergarteners through professionals. I am a member of a unique speakers bureau, A Vision in Motion, that serves as an extension of my philosophy to educate others about disabilities! Our bureau specializes in experienced motivators who have overcome tremendous adversity and inspire K-12 students, teachers, parents, and others through our programs and workshops! I am proud to be a member of this bureau and have even designed their web site for them,

Mr. Ford, I wish to commend you on an excellent product that I am very proud to drive, though enthusiast drivers would rate the Topaz pretty low on their scale of dream cars, itís the only Mercury model I have driven on a daily basis for the twelve years I have had my license. Itís also the car that I am especially proud to call my avenue of independence! I am enthusiastically awaiting your reply and hope that you kindly assist me in my search for a new car that I will be very happy with.

Please keep in mind that the only real handicaps we have are those we create for ourselves. I look forward to your positive response! I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a successful New Year to you and your company!

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Paul Stuart Wichansky

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