Most of us take for granted the independence that comes with the simple freedom of movement.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael Minard was on his third deployment in Iraq with the 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment. While on a reconnaissance patrol in Baghdad, north of Sadr City, SSG Minard was hit by a roadside bomb and he was catastrophically wounded. The blast resulted in the loss of both SSG Minard’s legs.

In late 2019, Minard became one of more than 2,400 veterans to be helped by the Independence Fund, a national nonprofit helping seriously wounded veterans and their caregivers rebuild their lives.

Former U.S. Army Ranger Sergeant Brian McGuire is another.

“I grew up walking in the woods. It’s where I was happy,” McGuire said. “When I lost my legs in combat, I thought that part of my life was gone forever, but the Independence Fund gave that back. They gave me normal back.”

Help for Minard and McGuire came in the form of all-terrain, tracked wheelchairs from the Independence Fund.

“Now I’ve got a daughter who loves walking in the woods with me,” McGuire said. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

The Independence Fund offers mobility, caregiver, adaptive sports, advocacy, and family programs designed to empower catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty.

Technical and medical advances have helped in this important work. But those advances are expensive. A single all-terrain tracked wheelchair is $16,000.

That’s why we are partnering with Mermet USA to raise funds for the Independence Project. Together we have pledged to purchase at least one all-terrain wheelchair to be presented to the recipient during the International Window Coverings Association show taking place March 25-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“This is such an important cause that we immediately agreed to partner with Mermet to raise funding for at least one chair,” said Draper® president Chris Broome. “Draper is proud of the many veterans in our own workforce and we hope we can help make a big difference for a vet and their family.”

You can help Draper reach (and maybe exceed) our goal. Simply click here for more information and a link to donate.

U.S. Army Sergeant Mike Verardo lost his left leg below the knee while serving.

“You get hurt in battle, and they send you home, but the battle doesn’t end there. Even the small things. Getting outside, spending time with my wife and kids can be tough,” he said. “But I’m lucky just to be here. I came so close to losing those things forever. So I don’t take anything for granted. Now, they’re the moments I live for.”

The Independence Fund’s motto is “Be a hero to a hero.”

We hope you will join with us to do just that, by returning independence to a deserving veteran.