TAMPA, Fla., June 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, winners of the National Mobility Awareness Month Local Heroes program were announced on the syndicated morning television show, "The Daily Buzz." Alberto Cruz (Willimantic, Conn.), Ken Davert (Bay City, Mich.) and Ron Miner (Frankfort, Ill.), shared stories of triumph overcoming their disabilities and how their new, wheelchair accessible vehicles will further empower them in their active lifestyles.
In its inaugural year, the National Mobility Awareness Month has one message: "It's Life Moving Forward." The effort alerts seniors, veterans and people with disabilities across the United States and Canada about the variety of mobility options available to them. As part of this initiative, program champion, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), created an online contest to award three individuals with customized wheelchair accessible vehicles. Sponsors Toyota, SanTan Honda in Chandler, Ariz. and Chrysler, came together to provide the vehicles, which will now be modified by NMEDA member manufacturers – BraunAbility and Vantage Mobility International. Cruz, Davert and Miner will take ownership of their vans, valued at $40,000 each, later this summer.
The contest welcomed more than 1,700 entries and 1.2 million votes were cast at the MobilityAwarenessMonth.com website. "We are humbled by the response to the National Mobility Awareness Month Local Heroes program," said Dave Hubbard, executive director and CEO. "This enthusiasm clearly illustrates the need for custom-built transportation, and it is our commitment to advance the awareness month's efforts in the future with the generous support of the membership, sponsors and public officials."
Continued Hubbard, "Moreover, it's an honor to award the wheelchair accessible vehicles to these inspiring individuals. Alberto, Ken and Ron possess the conviction to make their mark by focusing on their education, supporting veterans and advocating for those with disabilities, and simply motivating those around them. It has been exciting to watch their family, friends and neighbors rally around their Local Heroes."
Leaders in Washington, D.C. have also taken notice of the awareness month. Recently, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, a resolution was submitted to designate May 2012 as National Mobility Awareness Month. "It is an honor to receive this support," commented Hubbard. "Thank you to Congressman John Barrow (Ga.-12) for making this educational effort a priority."
Meet the Local Heroes winners:
- Alberto Cruz – Last summer, the 15-year-old became paralyzed while surfing on Narragansett Beach, R.I. Despite grueling therapy sessions after the accident, Cruz chose to continue his schooling and remain connected with his community. This moved his teacher, Lynn Frazier, who nominated him as a Local Hero. "Heroes attract other heroes. Alberto's courage touched something deep inside my students and their families," said Frazier. "It planted a seed of hope in our community."
- Ken Davert – Managing his own cerebral palsy, the Davert family is also coping with wife, Missy's and their 13-year-old twins, Austin and Michaela's, osteogenesis imperfecta (a brittle bone condition). The family is active in their community from Michaela in Girl Scouts to Missy as a life-long advocate for people with disabilities.
- Ron Miner – Miner is a disabled, U.S. Army veteran who was injured during active duty. After the incident, he became depressed. However, upon hearing about a wheelchair bodybuilding competition, he resolved to turn his life around. With intense training, he became a Wheelchair Bodybuilding Champion and won numerous gold medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Today, he is an activist for those with disabilities.
Also appearing on The Daily Buzz today, Sam Cook, president of both the NMEDA board of directors and of Superior Van & Mobility based in Louisville, Ky., and national spokesman, Mike Savicki. A C6, 7 quadriplegic; veteran; athlete; and entrepreneur, Savicki is a passionate advocate of efforts such as National Mobility Awareness Month. The Daily Buzz reaches more than 84 million television households within the U.S. each weekday morning.
About National Mobility Awareness Month:
National Mobility Awareness Month is the inaugural May celebration that encourages people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. Founded in 1989 as a non-profit trade association, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) supports the awareness month with the assistance of more than 600 mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers and driver rehabilitation specialists dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities. For updates, please visit NMEDA's Facebook, Twitter or website.
SOURCE National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association