United States Army Corporal Sue Downes was serving with a military police unit in Logar province, Afghanistan, when tragedy struck. Her vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Downes was awarded a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Army Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Badge. She was catastrophically injured, including the loss of both of her legs.

Downes is now getting back more mobility and freedom thanks to the Independence Fund. The non-profit organization provides catastrophically wounded veterans with all-terrain tracked mobility chairs. Draper partnered with weaver Mermet USA to raise over $20,000 for a mobility chair for Downes, with donations coming from the companies, our employees, our customers, and our friends.

Downes tries out the new all-terrain mobility chair while her fiancé looks on.

“I’ll have more confidence going out and doing yard work,” said Downes. “The ground’s uneven. I don’t trust myself without some kind of assistance, so I’ll be able to go out and not rely on someone to be out there or rely on a cane or rely on anything. I can just go out there right up to my rose bushes and plant around them or dig around them, water them. Things like that—just little things.”

The mother of two from Tazewell, Tennessee, isn’t the only one pleased with her new sense of freedom.

“I knew that it was going to open new doors for her and allow her to do things that we haven’t been doing, things that she would enjoy doing,” said Tim Crutchfield, her fiancé. “It gave me a sense that I was tickled too.”

She is also moving into a new home adapted specifically to meet her needs.

This is the second time Draper has raised money for the Independence Fund. We previously combined with Mermet and other partners to provide funding for two mobility chairs in 2020.

“We’re really proud to be able to help support veterans who have lost so much in the service of our country,” said Chris Broome, the president of Draper. “It’s really heart-warming to watch Sue enjoy her new mobility chair, and be able to get back to doing things she hasn’t able to.”

To learn more about the project, watch this short video produced by Mermet USA:

You can also personally donate to the Independence Fund any time. Click here to go to their website.