Today was an unbelievably emotional day. The day started at The Walter Reed Army Medical Center where Dean Kamen, Stephen Baldwin, Leeann Tweedan and I went to visit injured soldiers who just returned home. I have never seen so many young men, who served our country, missing arms and legs -- it was absolutely horrifying. We also saw so many paralyzed soldiers. Dean and I left the hospital, looked at each other, and realized even more-so how imperative it is to keep the iBOT wheelchair in production.
The Huey 091 Foundation which has been donating iBOT wheelchairs to soldiers, made a donation of an iBOT to a quadruple amputee soldier who just returned from the war. The iBOT was given to the Huey 091 Foundation by the Darreyll Gwynn Foundation which also donates wheelchairs to people who can’t afford them. By giving this young man an iBOT – we changed his life. What a great feeling it was to see his face and know we made a difference.
At 3pm we had a press conference at the National Press Club - a Newsmaker event. Gary Lawson(Heuy 091 Foundation), William Chatfield (SSS), Jim Palmershon (American Airlines), Brandon Millet (Founder of The GI Film Festival), Gary Linfoot (a spinal cord injured fighter pilot who uses an iBOT), and I addressed the media about the discontinuing of the iBOT wheelchair. I think people were shocked by this news. Our support to get this changed is growing rapidly. At the end of the event, Stephen Baldwin grabbed the microphone and publicly joined our team. He started calling for immediate action and awareness of this issue. It was very inspiring!
The final highlight: Dean Kamen agreed to be the Guest of Honor at the 21st Annual Celebrity Golf & Tennis Tournament on August 3, 2009 benefiting The Alan T Brown Foundation. It is very difficult to describe the range of emotions I felt this week, but I feel good knowing this is just the beginning! This is one piece of my overall goal to make sure the 1.3 million people with spinal cord injuries and 5.7 people who suffer from paralysis will have a better quality of life. Watch out D.C – I’m planning my comeback!