Wounded Wheels is excited to announce we are now accepting applications for the second vehicle to be donated. We will be accepting application from Purple Heart Recipients until March 20th at 11:59pm.
The Reality of Wounded Wheels
We discovered that the paraplegic vehicle modifications were far more complex and costly than we’d ever imagined. Donations didn’t nearly cover the costs of the build; however, with funding from the founder, we were able to complete a functioning prototype vehicle. Five months ago we began a social media outreach program to get the chartered 10 applicants to give the vehicle to. Once the recipient is chosen by an impartial board, the vehicle will be tailored to that individual and will meet all federal safety requirements.
As a result of massive positive feedback and requests for a more advanced design, quadriplegic modification research and development is also something we’ve begun and we’d love to help with. We fully understand that a typical minivan enabled for quadriplegic drivers are well into the six figures. We know we do not have the engineering department and multimillion dollar test budgets, however, we had hoped to build a working quadriplegic car to inspire larger companies with the funds to continue the effort. Our goal with quadriplegics was inspired by Thomas Edison. We didn’t necessarily want to build all the lightbulbs; we just wanted to show the world that one could actually work.
The sad and simple truth is that since the Wounded Wheels program inception, sufficient funds have not been available to build even the first and simplest of vehicles, including the prototype Chevelle which had to be largely funded by the charity’s founder. This type development is expensive and challenging. Dan Short, the owner of FantomWorks, paid 100% of the labor and overhead as well as all of the engineering and design time.
The Chevelle prototype was drivable by August 2012 when the vehicle’s initial development was televised at the Khedive Auto Shriners’ Car Show as part of the FantomWorks television show, hoping to raise awareness and capital to build additional vehicles. At the time, Wounded Wheels still believed that the Chevelle-type paraplegic vehicle was the correct target vehicle. Now in 2015, after three years of very diligent fund raising, sufficient funds are still not available to complete even one production unit.
After three years of fundraising and still lacking funds to continue the next prototype development, Wounded Wheels decided that the prototype vehicle, which had been displayed and shown for fundraising purposes, was not being used in its best and highest capacity. In February 2015, Wounded Wheels posted on its website and social media that the prototype Chevelle would be given to a qualified service member who might need a powered-chair vehicle. The IRS requires that the items gained through nonprofit donations be given to recipients in a fair and impartial process. Wounded Wheels had established by founding charter the procedures for awarding cars would be via an Active Duty Service Member board which would convene upon sufficient applicants’ submissions. To maintain complete impartiality, no Wounded Wheels board member would be a voting member of that board.
In February 2015, the Wounded Wheels Board of Directors decided to maintain an equitable and impartial selection process. Ten potentially qualified applicants were desired prior to convening the Active Duty board however the IRS has agreed that the five we have is sufficient and so a board is being convened. If additional applicants are received prior to the 1 September 2015 deadline, they will be considered. Wounded Wheels continues to use social media and the website to garner applicants for the vehicle and requests that any knowledge of qualified applicants be submitted to Wounded Wheels via the following link http://www.woundedwheels.org/applications
Coincidentally, Dan Short and FantomWorks spent thousands of dollars on advertising and was even awarded “Best of” in 2012 for restoration shops in Hampton Roads, but FantomWorks stopped advertising in the Virginian Pilot due to extremely high advertising costs, ineffective Virginian Pilot marketing as well as a significant decline in Virginian Pilot circulation (losing over thirteen thousand newspaper viewers for the Sunday edition alone in just one year). The Virginian Pilot has also gained a reputation for attack sensationalism lately in their failed attempt to raise circulation. It may be simply ironic that when Dan Short and FantomWorks refused to continue advertising in the Virginian Pilot, despite repeated aggressive sales campaigns, the negative story was written. We would like to say thanks to our countless supporters who have recently increased their support and written us thanking us for our efforts. Many state that this typically negative attack from the Pilot is encouraging them to support us even more.
Wounded Wheels will attempt to develop a quadriplegic-capable car if development funds can be gathered within the next year. Developing accessible cars is impossible without sufficient donor support. A quadriplegic accessible car will cost over $200K, of which only $32K exists in the Wounded Wheels bank account as of this document’s date. Funds to date have only paid for materials with 100% of Engineering; Research & Development being paid by the founder himself but the founder admits that he cannot continue to fund it himself.
At this time Wounded Wheels is modifying its charter to include the repairing of vehicles donated to the foundation and giving them away to qualified purple heart recipients even if the veterans are capable of driving unmodified vehicles. It is the organization’s belief that we can make a larger contribution to wounded veterans if we can provide more vehicles with lower costs per vehicle.