BIRMINGHAM, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 11, 2001--Heidi Van Arnem, 35, founder, chairwoman and chief executive officer of iCan! Inc., died Sunday, Nov. 11, 2001, of acute respiratory failure in William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

In 1999, Van Arnem founded iCan! with a handful of people and the vision to change the world for people with disabilities. In 2 1/2 years, she crafted that vision into what is today iCan! Inc., a solutions and services company for people with disabilities and leaders of business. iCan! has business partnerships with some of the world's largest corporations, including General Motors, America Online, Kmart, Orbitz and PriMedia.

Van Arnem, a quadriplegic since age 16 from a gunshot wound to the neck, also established the Heidi Van Arnem Foundation in 1992, with a mission to help find a cure for paralysis. She sold a successful travel business in 1999 to start iCan.com to harness the power of the Internet and bring information, resources and services to people with disabilities.

With her office serving as the storefront of iCan!'s headquarters, Van Arnem's work ethic and vision set the tone for all who passed through the doors of her company. Her tireless efforts fueled her staff and business partners. Her personal and professional mission to strive for complete accessibility gave her the courage to communicate her message at the highest levels of government, business and cultural circles.

"The most amazing thing about Heidi was that her spirit and drive were what defined her -- not her paralysis," said her brother, H.L. Van Arnem. "Her accomplishments created opportunities for the entire disability population, not just herself. And this selfless determination and leadership to effect positive change was a bright and shining light that will never fade."

Van Arnem often credited her deep Christian beliefs for her success. Her lifelong efforts in nonprofit and for-profit ventures were dedicated to improving the lives of others. iCan! was the culmination of Van Arnem's experience and vision. As her company continues to create life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities, Van Arnem's efforts will continue to resonate for generations to come. iCan! and the countless individuals she touched with her vision are her legacy.

That vision continues to prosper with iCan!'s successes. iCan.com is growing in scope and depth. A month ago, iCan! signed an agreement with AOL to regularly supply content links for AOL's Disabilities Community. iCan!'s business services continue to effect change with industry leading businesses in the areas of Web accessibility, awareness training and marketing consulting.

As a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur and inventor, Van Arnem was recognized as one of the Top 25 Women on the Web by Upside magazine. She was the first recipient of the Evan Kemp Entrepreneur of the Year award for small business achievement. In September, iCan! won the first da Vinci Accessibility Award for information technology.

In addition, she developed a program in schools to sensitize students without disabilities to the difficulties faced by those who must use wheelchairs on a daily basis. Van Arnem served for the past several years as a Commissioner on Disability Concerns for the state of Michigan.

"It's appalling to think about the lives and dreams wasted and the frustration that resonates through our community, so much missed opportunity," Van Arnem said in a speech last spring, when she was awarded the national Wyndam Women on the Way award in New York. "This is what keeps me going and focused on doing everything in my power to bring about change. Erasing the constant injustice, lack of dignity, barriers into life and social isolation is our priority."

The iCan! dream -- Van Arnem's vision for the future -- was that one day there be no barriers between people with and without disabilities. Disability, she'd say, would become a term without meaning -- because people would see each person for their abilities, rather than their disabilities.

"It's incredible, the obstacles that people with disabilities face," Van Arnem said. "I am equally amazed at the beauty, strength and achievements that arise from the spirit within each one of us. Our collective voice, sharing opportunities and providing inspiration is what iCan! is all about."

Van Arnem is survived by her mother, Karen Zosel, and stepfather, Paul Zosel; father, Harold Van Arnem, and stepmother, Bridget Van Arnem; sisters Aleise Van Arnem and Heather (Jean) Chidiac; brother H.L. Van Arnem; stepbrothers Paul Zosel III and Adam, Maxwell and Sean Van Arnem; and nephew J.J. Chidiac.

Visitation is scheduled for 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at A.J. Desmond & Sons funeral home, 2600 Crooks, Troy, Mich. There will be a scripture service and eulogy at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. There also will be visitation an hour before the 11 a.m. Thursday funeral mass at St. Hugo of the Hills Church, 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The family requests donations be made to the Heidi Van Arnem Foundation, 870 Bowers St., Birmingham, Mich. 48009.