I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sam Schmidt, who in 2000 was injured in an Indy Racing League (IRL) practice round. Sam was diagnosed as a quadriplegic; the result of a severe injury to his spinal cord at the C-3/C-4 levels. I flew to Indianapolis to present him with a wheelchair accessible Honda Odyssey that VMI converted. Below is thepress release that went out last month:
Phoenix, AZ– June 12, -2008 – Vantage Mobility International (VMI) recently donated a wheelchair-accessible Honda Odyssey to Sam Schmidt of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (AHM) supplied the vehicle that VMI adapted with its Northstar conversion, which provides a powered in-floor ramp for unrestricted access and greater interior maneuverability for all types of wheelchairs.
“I want to personally thank AHM and VMI for their generosity in donating a van and the conversion,” said Sam Schmidt. ”Honda has been involved with the Foundation’s Racing to Recovery Gala and Day at the Races program, so I appreciate this opportunity to assist them in marketing to a select community. Also, it’s fantastic to add VMI to our growing list of supporters. Without their joint participation, this partnership would not have been possible. Obviously, after racing most of my life, a vehicle is not simply transportation for me. Having used this new Odyssey throughout the month of May, I can say it is the finest conversion and platform that I have utilized in the eight years since my accident. I predict that Honda and VMI will gobble up market share with this product!”
Sam Schmidt acknowledged the donation by meeting with Monique McGivney, Marketing Manager of VMI and other representatives in Indianapolis at one of his Day at the Races events. At racetrack locations nationwide, people with disabilities and family members in the community attend a ‘behind-the-scenes’ guided tour of the garage area and enjoy a catered lunch. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet the drivers and view on-track activities. Guest speakers address many areas of concern, including: transition from inpatient rehabilitation to the home, insurance problems, homecare, family and transportation.
“Mobility is paramount to freedom and independence,” said Doug Eaton, President and CEO of VMI. “VMI provides technologically-advanced solutions, like the Northstar in-floor conversion we used in the donated vehicle, for people with disabilities to help them face any transportation challenge. Partnering with Honda to donate another Honda Odyssey with the VMI Northstar conversion is very special. We couldn’t be more pleased to be able to help Sam and his organization with wonderful vehicle.”
“Sam Schmidt serves as an inspiration to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting him,” said T.E. McHale, Manager of Motorsports Public Relations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc. “The work he is doing through his Foundation and his Day at the Races program is exemplary, and, through the donation of this Honda Odyssey, we are both proud and grateful to have the opportunity to assist him in his efforts.”