GFM Accountability

GFM Expenditure Tracking

Wow, oh wow.
Thank you!

  • GoFundMe Fee: $554 (final TBD)
  • Vehicle Repair & Maintenance: $1500 (final TBD)
      This may end up being less than anticipated thanks to mechanics on the CRVL Forum. If so, this amount will be updated.
  • Seat Modification & Maintenance: $470 (Final)
      We took the panel out (behind the passenger seat only). My friend donated the labor to add a swivel base so that I have somewhere to sit other than the bed. The seats are split and torn and the batting is coming out. I will sew and repair the chairs and we ordered covers for them.
  • Truck Fridge & Wiring: $600 (Final)
  • Solar Panel, Installation Accessories, Charge Controller, Batteries: $1250.00 (Final)
      The actual cost was more, but the difference was gapped by private donations.
  • Cabinetry & Flooring: $250 (Final)
  • Emergency funds: $1880-$400 = $1,440 balance
      This amount will be updated and itemized, if and when any of it is spent.
      3/30/17 & 3/31/17 - $400 Veterinarian bills for Nonni (a gastro virus) and the burial of Bentley

I am doing what I can on all of this, serving as a mere assistant to my good friends B and C (as they are known on the CRVL forum). They are donating ALL the time and labor necessary to complete this enormous project in a very short period of time. These numbers pale in comparison to what the cost would be without their donation of love and time …. and sweat equity.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone of you that made this possible. There will never be a day in my life where I don’t remember your generous outpouring of love, support and encouragement. I am truly blessed and will pay it forward every single day as I live in what will hopefully be extremely glorious days in Fancy Free, my soon-to-be, new-to-me van. XOXO!

GFM UPDATES (in reverse order)


Dear Ones,

As soon as I hit send on this last update, I am closing the GFM campaign. I have already updated my website with a page for tracking expenditures, as promised, and you can view that (here).

We are hard at work on the van. Fancy Free is my van’s new name, and she has already seen one mechanic. More maintenance is needed, but meanwhile, here at my friend’s home ….

Day One included taking everything out and getting her down to the floor and walls.

Day Two was all about sanding and cleaning.

Day Three was prep work. I used a creeper for the first time. I was underneath the carriage attaching washers and nuts while my friend tightened bolts (1st photo above). We plugged 24 holes!

Then I finished detailing my van to get rid of all the grime that has collected from being on the road for over a year, as well as the dust from the sanding I did yesterday.

Today, Day Four, my friend is cutting plywood to cover the floor. It turns out the floor is too wavy for him to easily build level cabinets so we will cover the floor with 3/4” plywood, and then put the rubber horse stall mat back on top of that. I’ll lose some height, but will gain so much more in the long run it is well worth it.

Tomorrow, Day Five, we start on the cabinets. My friend is also going to show me how to prep the surface and paint the metal floor with Rustoleum, weather permitting. We are doing all of this while we wait on the solar panels and supplies to arrive.

Whew! It is a lot! I am learning so much! I’m also having to rest a lot to handle it all. I hope I don’t get too far behind on my videos or any further behind on my replies, but I’ll keep plugging along. Hang in there with me, and please stay tuned! Future updates will be on my YouTube Channel (here).

Thank you once again for this AWE-mazing opportunity. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I am not headed to a nursing home or any type of assisted living for now, and my world is filled with beautiful beings and lots of love!

Life is good. I am so blessed and so grateful! See you down the road you beautiful beings you!

With much love and loads of gratitude,
Nonni & Bentley


Dear contributors,

Thank you so much for helping me reach my goal! You have changed my life and I will forever pay it forward. THANK YOU!!!

I would close the campaign immediately, but I’m not sure if all of the info will still be available once it’s closed. I am working on it though, and will close the campaign as soon as I can figure out how to download and retain everything.

Again, thank you!

My progress is slowed somewhat because I had a seizure last night. It was a mild one and I will be functional again soon, but all of the activity as of late has taken its toll on me. I shared in my last two videos that I wished there was a different word other than “seizures” to describe what I go through. I have received 350+ wonderful comments on those two videos (WOW!), and my AWEsome viewers gave me many ideas.

From that I now have 3 new alternative words to “seizure”:

When the brain is overwhelmed from external stimuli or activity.

The recovery period after flooding has occurred.
Thank you to Offtrak Traveler who introduced me to Cristabelle Braden, founder of “Hope After Head Injury”. Her epic 3 minute video captures it all:

Thank you to COgal H. who shared that her grandson calls them episodes or episodes of confusion. Perfect! Those will be my words of choice from now on.

So thank you my wonderful viewers and contributors! You lift me up in so many ways!

I am now able to put in to words an experience that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to describe …

From flooding, I am in a crash after an episode of confusion that happened last night around 2:30A. I woke up with all of my muscles balled up. That often happens after an episode. That, along with blurred vision and sluggish thinking plus an increased sensitivity to light and sound – even more than usual. (Please see the links above if you have any questions around this.) Fortunately, blessedly, it is a temporary state. Movement and talking is very difficult today, but I’ll be up and about again soon.

We arrived late yesterday afternoon at my friend’s home where I will be for the next couple of weeks while we work on the van. Woohoo! My MPPT charge controller also arrived yesterday. Yay! And so it begins! I am so excited and very grateful.

I will post update videos soon so please stay tuned on my YouTube channel:

I’ll see you down the road!

With much love, gratitude and JOY!
Nonni and Bentley


Good morning beautiful peeps!

As usual, being in the city and out of my “norm” is taking its toll and me. I am sleeping a lot. AND it’s ALL good! Thank you for your generous gifts of time, money and kind words. I am so blessed! And I am blown away.

Below are my two latest videos – Part One and Part Two. I think they say more than I can include in this update. At least I hope so! LOL. It took me 3 days to produce them and another full day to get them published. The sense of accomplishment was totally worth it.

I wasn’t sure how they would be received. I decided to publish them anyway – even if the reactions and comments were negative – but they haven’t been! Again, thank you all. I am feeling the love and encouragement. Life is good, really good. I am grateful.

Nonni and Bentley


Tips to Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury


Hello my wonderful supporters,

We "landed" at my friends house, B and C, in TX late yesterday, and already my van is in the shop being looked at today! Isn't that wonderful?!?

I have several estimates from other mechanics that I got during my travels in various towns over time, but with this being a long-time friend and trusted mechanic of B's, he asked him to give it a thorough inspection and a good once-over before doing any work. We should have a full report from him soon. I feel so safe and blessed! And I am very happy.

I followed my friends all the way from our camp in CA to TX. It normally takes him 2 days, but with me in tow, it took 4. And even that was way too fast for me. I am exhausted and moving slowly. Being in their lovely sticks-and-bricks home is allowing me some much needed comfort and rest. They live on the outskirts of a major metropolis. Although their town only has a population of approximately 5K, I would not have been able to make the long journey or manipulate the nearby metroplex traffic to get here if I had not been following them. It is very clear my days of driving in a city on my own, even to just pass through, are over. B and C have graciously agreed to lead me back out of town when the time comes. I am always all about safety first and really appreciate that.

So, over the next few weeks I’ll do what I can to help out around here and I will create and maintain the tracking log on my blog. I also want to do a video that answers some of the questions so many have had. I am finding it very daunting to try and do videos on my own but I am determined to not give up. Wish me luck! Now that we have landed I am also going to start writing my individual thank you’s as well as answer some people online. I look forward to connecting with each of you. What a thrill that is going to be for me!

I realize all of that is a lot, but I plan to do a little bit each day so I don’t get overwhelmed. It has taken me 3 hours just to write this and get it published! Not kidding, LOL. But I see it as my job and I’m grateful for the privilege. Plus, it is nothing compared to your generosity! I share all of this with you because I want you to know that I am serious about making this work, and I am committed to doing my part to honor the chance you have given me. I won’t let you down. I promise.

As always, I send much love and big, big hugZ!

In gratitude,
Nonni and Bentley


Dear beautiful beings,

I have more hope today than I ever have since being given my dire prognosis 2 years ago. Thank you!!! I am completely blown away by the outpouring of love and action by so many. Wow oh wow. I'm so very blessed. Thank you for the supportive words and generous donations! As my supporters know, for me, staying out of a nursing home is probably the difference between life and death, literally. That’s not drama, that’s not grandstanding, it’s truth.

Most of you also know that I am following my friends and we are making the long trek back to Texas where they will help me with the necessary repairs and improvements to my van that you have made possible. After that you have given me the opportunity to go back out to the healing peace and quiet of nature. Can you feel my joy? It is palpable.

On this journey I am realizing just how drastically slow I am at doing anything! I have to think about every single step, every single time, around every single thing – even the most base tasks. The slightest interruption completely derails me and it doesn’t take too much external stimulation anymore before I start having nose bleeds and/or skipping. I see a lot of solitude camping in my future and that’s okay. I believe it will be healing for me. I am determined to make it so.

I plan to maintain my blog and my YouTube channel as best I can. That will be my connection, my outlet. It may sound like a lonely life but I don’t see it that way at all. For me, it is blessed and joyful. Thank you for being a part of this awe-mazing journey with me!

Every single contributor deserves, and will get, a personal thank you from me, but being on the road makes that impossible for me to do right now. I promise you will hear from me once we land at my friends’ home. I will also keep my promise to set up a tracking log on my blog for the campaign expenditures. Until then, thank you for the moral support and for believing in me. I send you great love.

Always, and with much gratitude,
Nonni and Bentley


Dear hearts,

Please bear with me through the ups and downs of this update. Three days ago was an extreme low point in my life when I decided to take the advice of close friends and go public with a GoFundMe campaign. I have cried a lot the last two days because I was sincere when I shared that my days out here and consequently I believe, my life, are numbered. With no way to predict the campaign outcome, I was preparing for the worst.

Then this morning my friend Bob Wells shared my campaign on his blog at, and his readers plus more of my friends stepped up to the plate. Thank you all! For the first time in a long time I saw light at the end of the tunnel. Actually, I saw life at the end of the tunnel. I cannot even begin to express the relief, joy and my gratitude.

Unfortunately I logged on this afternoon to Facebook only to see my worst nightmare being played out in front of me on a Vandwellers group. I saw a horrific post where I was accused of being a worthless, lowlife beggar by a hater. She posted dramatic pictures and repeatedly made fun of me even though I'm not the one that shared the post nor did I participate in the comments. Of course there were other haters that jumped on the bandwagon. I extend a huge thank you to those who showed up in the conversation with love, compassion and empathy.

There are a few points I want to stress. One, I have not marketed my campaign anywhere yet and I would never post it on someone else’s page let alone in a group. I appreciate the kind hearted soul that did. Thank you for being so magnanimous. I'm sorry that it backfired on you. Secondly, I wasn't trying to make my campaign a heartbreaker. I tried to make it factual. The haters have insinuated that I must not have a brain injury since I created such an elaborate GoFundMe campaign. The truth is three friends helped me write the essay and create the campaign. Two other friends helped me come up with the itemized list and dollar amounts. Thank you earth angels! That only shows that as a general rule, people do not understand Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). That in turn makes me only more determined to keep going with my blog and YouTube channel to show what it's really like – for anyone who wants to take the time to learn. You are making that possible. Again, thank you!

I choose love over hate every time, but admittedly that Facebook post was a blow to me today. It set me back and I cried - which of course only made me feel like the pitiful character that was being crucified in the post. But if I have proven anything, it's that I can rise above a bad beating. I won't let the haters steal my joy, especially today. Today was far too special for me to give any of them more than a minute of my life, and they didn't even deserve that. I am moving on. KOKO!

I will get back to writing individual and personal thank you's but for now I want to share that I am on my way to Texas where I will get to spend time with beautiful friends and family, and I get to leave when the visits come to an end. It's not going to be a one-way trip, dead-ending at a nursing home like I had feared. Until today, that was a very real possibility, and something that I have been trying hard to bravely face. I am safely able to make the long trip because I am following friends so the mileage was never the issue. The angst was in the feeling that I was probably driving to Texas to hang up my keys and retire somewhere in assisted living. But no more!

The wonderful, positive truth about today is that your donations will save my life. And haters can scoff at that all you want, but the dollars will not just buy van repairs and a couple of upgrades! The GoFundMe campaign will keep me out of a nursing home and as I’ve said, I am convinced that will save my life. So yeah, if it makes someone feel better to say I’m a beggar. Go ahead. My life is worth it.

So I am celebrating today – a head over heels (pun intended) joyous celebration. I am headed to Texas with hope in my heart instead of dread, and I am receiving love and donations from many beautiful, awe-mazing people. I make no apologies for that.

Your gift is priceless, and I will spend the rest of my life honoring every penny and paying it forward.

I send each of you much love, infinite blessings and big hugZ,


I am so grateful to Bob Wells for supporting this campaign on his blog. Thank you Bob! And thank you to each of you that are so generously offering your support in dollars and heartfelt encouragement with loving comments. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I came very, very close to giving up. You've lifted my spirits and bolstered my intent. Thank you all so very much!


I created this GFM campaign at the request of my friend Bob Wells, who is going to put it on his blog soon. I haven't even done anything to market it yet (on my own), but 3 friends have shared it on FB and I already have 6 donations! It took everything I had to get the courage to do this. Thank you donors! Your $ will help me reach my goal, but by being so quick to show your support, you've also given me the gift of courage — and that's priceless. Much love and infinite blessings to you!



Need to Live Free; No Nursing Home!

I’m Debra Dickinson and I've been a VanDweller since 2014. I joined Bob Wells' camp in 2015 when I started full-time on the road. I immediately fell in love with the vandwelling community and enjoy sharing that love by helping others through my YouTube Channel (Debra Dickinson) and blog (TBIVanGirl).

I live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but am able to thrive while living in nature with my two dogs. This simple, quiet, stress-free lifestyle dramatically reduces my symptoms which, in turn, has apparently stalled the growth of scar tissue in my brain. At some point, the scar tissue and my symptoms will presumably progress to the point that I will need to live in a nursing home. And that, my friends, is why Bob has asked me to write this blog post: to help me stay free for as long as possible.

I am asking for your help, through a GoFundMe Campaign, to maintain a stress-free lifestyle, in my van and in nature. In order to maintain this lifestyle, my van needs repairs and improvements.


Almost two decades ago, I was beaten by a foster son. The traumatic brain injury that I sustained caused me to be in a coma. As a result of my injuries, I was hospitalized and spent several months in rehab. I was able to rebuild my life though, and had a successful career and even purchased a home. I also remarried. I was living the American Dream! And then seizures started…

The seizures are NOT epileptic in nature which means they do not affect my ability to drive. They are not that kind and do not have sudden onset. It took doctors almost 2 years to identify the problem. It turns out that scar tissue was building up on my brain from the original injury. I had brain surgery to remove what scar tissue they could. It was a one-time shot. Luckily, it worked, but through it all I lost my career, my home and my husband.

I rebuilt my life once again and even earned my certification to teach. I taught junior high science and I loved it! But the stress was too much and the scar tissue began to grow again. As the scar tissue accumulated, I was determined to remain independent. I refused disability, even though my doctors and social workers advised me that I should no longer try to work. However, this time, it was more and more challenging to be successful at jobs. I tried various odd jobs and even moved to small town USA to work in a State Park. My hope was to stay there until I retired. It was, after all, a small, quiet town and the State Park put me near my healing place: Mother Nature. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. My health began to decline once again and my doctors were clear: nothing else could be done. It was 2015 and with a diagnosis of Impact-induced Hippocampal Sclerosis (HS) that produced Mesial temporal sclerosis, my doctors told me to get my affairs in order, assign a legal guardian and trustee, and basically just wait it out. I was devastated.

No longer able to work, I tried staying with family and friends but the TVs, the noise and the city, all combined, took a toll on me and was creating multiple seizures. In an effort to get my seizures under control I started staying at State Parks in a tent. I was on several waiting lists for subsidized housing, but the wait (depending on location) ranged from 2-5 years. After almost 2 months of tent camping, I decided it was time to make a change: my disability kicked in and I bought my cargo van.

Life as a VanDweller, with my furbabies, has been healing for me. At the very least, my seizures are far less frequent and I can think and process when I am in the peace and quiet of my van and out in nature. The simplicity has allowed me to remain independent for over a year now because it is a lifestyle I can maintain.

With nowhere else to go, to sustain my health after this, my next step will be assisted living or long term care. I am trying desperately to stall that outcome for as long as I absolutely can. I honestly don’t think I will survive being locked up in 4 walls. I hope I don’t have to find out.


Although I have been fortunate to experience a reduction in my symptoms this past year, I am currently unable to hold a job. After expenses, such as insurance, etc., I live on about $650/mo in Social Security Disability payments. I paid off all my medical bills and tried to save my house, which means that I am debt-free, but it also exhausted all of my savings. Because so many people have been so good to me through all of this, it is devastating for me to ask, but in short, I now need help to keep my van livable and dependable.


Vehicle Repairs - $1500 (ball joints, rear seal leak, brakes & windshield)
To have a dependable van, travel with good weather, go to the back country to be in quiet and nature, and heal.

Rooftop Solar System - $1250 (solar panels, controller and 2 batteries)
My current 100w suitcase solar system is inadequate. Furthermore, it's difficult for me to deploy and put away, especially if in a hurried or confused state.

Cabinets - $200
Organization is key for me to keep my stress low and symptoms at bay. A designated place for everything will help keep my van's interior uncluttered, and there won’t be the danger of forgetting to bungee something down.

Small Fridge – $550
Eating fresh healthy foods is key to good health and prolonged independence.

Emergency Fund - $2000
This will be temporary seed money while I build a savings fund for future needs.

GoFundMe Donation Fees – appx. $500 (7.9% + 30 cents/donation)
This is the cost of running a campaign on GoFundMe.


I will not give up. I am always trying to find jobs I can do. For example, in Quartzsite recently I went to at least 50 vendors. The jobs were too complicated or noisy for me, but I tried. I will find something I can do. I just know it. I just need more time!

A friend helped me start a YouTube channel and I hope it will be a source of supplemental income for me. I hope to be completely independent and off disability some day. We’ll see. I’m trying to be realistic. The doctors say no, but I haven’t given up hope. In 2015, when they told me to get my affairs in order, they also told me that I might see 2016 but would probably not be aware of it. Here it is 2017 and I’m still going!

If you give me this extra time out here that I am asking for, I will keep working to find ways to become self-sustaining. I will keep you updated on that progress through my videos and my blog for as long as I am able. I will also show all of my expenditures on my website on a tab labeled (My GoFundMe). You will be able to see every penny accounted for.

If something happens to me, I have already made provisions for my furbabies and Leslie, my BFF and legal guardian, will see to it that any money remaining in the fund goes to my continued care. It will all be put to good use. I promise. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


If you are willing, please consider giving to this campaign with joy and love. If you are unable to contribute financially, please send your joy and love through prayers. As always, it a great life out here. I’ll see you down the road!

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