As an Intellectual Property attorney at Taft since 2014, Derek Lavender regularly encounters challenges – ranging from quickly gaining a deep understanding of electro-pneumatic systems, to protecting a client’s patent, to helping inventors monetize intangible aspects of their business.
On June 16, 2016, Derek and his spouse LeAnne Lavender faced a more personal challenge – Derek was involved in a serious accident, and would need to undergo several surgeries, hospital stays, and countless treatments. As a result of the accident, Derek is a T4 paraplegic, meaning he is paralyzed from the chest down.
Demonstrating the same innate drive for innovation and adaptability as is evident in his law practice, Derek and LeAnne have channeled their experience into identifying ways to help others facing accessibility challenges or medical needs. Since 2016, LeAnne has led Lavenders’ Longshot, a business focused on helping others find hope, a community of support, and accessibility design consulting services. In partnership with MudLOVE, the couple has also founded LoveWell Fundraising, an online fundraising platform dedicated to helping community members raise funds for families experiencing emergency medical bills, adoptions, and more.
Reflecting on her and her spouse’s experience and commitment to cultivating a platform of hope and community support, LeAnne shares, “The beauty of fundraisers is how encouraging they can be when you see your family and friends rallying behind you. One of the more memorable times for Derek and I during rehab in Chicago was dropping in on a Taft-sponsored fundraiser via video conference to see all of the support and encouragement from clients and colleagues alike.” To learn more about the Lavenders and their story, read the Grace College feature here.