“Thank each and every one of y’all. It has been a life-changing event.”

Those words of joy and gratitude come from Dennis Baucum. Baucum is one of two catastrophically injured United States military veterans to receive all-terrain mobility chairs from The Independence Fund.

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.

Earlier this year, Draper partnered with Mermet USA and others to raise funds for one all-terrain mobility chair from the Independence Fund. Thanks to generous donations from the employees and customers of Mermet and Draper, the effort was a resounding success.

“We have a lot of veterans that work with our family of companies,” said Mermet USA managing director Chris Duerk. “Our goal was to raise $16,000 for one veteran’s chair. We were fortunate to raise more than enough money for two chairs.”

In addition, there were funds left over to donate to the Independence Fund at Home Project, which helps veterans impacted by COVID-19.

“We’re really proud of how our employees and customers contributed to this project,” said Chris Broome, Draper company president. “2020 has been a challenging year but seeing people pull together for this effort was inspiring.”

“I’m very happy and grateful,” said Frankie Davis, the other veteran receiving an ATV chair. He said it has allowed him to be able to do things he loves but had been unable to participant in due to his injuries.

“It allows me to go to the mountains, and to the beach, hunting, fishing.”

The chairs were initially to be presented to the recipients during the International Window Coverings Association in March in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19.

To view a quick Mermet USA-produced video about the project, including clips of the ATV chairs in action, click here.

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