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Veterans Day Brings Wheelchair Donation to Iowa Veterans

A donation from employees of an Iowa electric-transmission company will provide some new wheelchairs for the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Iowa chapter. Courtesy: Paralyzed Veterans of America
A donation from employees of an Iowa electric-transmission company will provide some new wheelchairs for the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Iowa chapter. Courtesy: Paralyzed Veterans of America
November 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - Fundraising by employees at an electric transmission company that operates in Iowa has helped provide wheelchairs to Iowa veterans.

ITC Holdings' chief executive Joe Welch said his employees raised more than $108,000 to purchase nine motorized wheelchairs for veterans with disabilities in four states including Iowa.

"All of the employees here are so grateful for those veterans who have sacrificed so much so that we could still have the freedoms we have," Welch said, "and so it was really everyone's heads coming together and saying, 'Boy, oh boy, what a great thing for us to do.' "

Kim Gould, who heads the Iowa chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the group was surprised by the donation.

"We would never have been able to afford to buy these on our own," she said. "It's just a really, really wonderful thing. You know, the rehab, recreation, and sports is so vital to rehabilitation of these veterans, trying to given them a sense of normalcy."

ITC Holdings has an office in Cedar Rapids.

Two wheelchairs will be given to Iowa veterans. Each chair costs $15,000. Welch said the specialized wheelchairs will help paralyzed veterans be part of outdoor activities that are difficult to participate in with regular wheelchairs.

"The more wounded they are, the more opportunities they are given to get back into nature, the quicker they heal," he said. "And so, once we found that out, it's even more exciting for us to be part of that."

Some of the veterans will be able to return to hunting and other outdoor pursuits with the help of the specialized wheelchairs, Welch said, adding that his company makes philanthropy a priority every year.

"Yes, this is the kind of thing that all corporations should be doing," he said, "because we certainly as corporations - and, of course, people like myself as CEOs - we hear all the bad, and very seldom do we ever get to hear the good."

Wheelchairs also will go to veterans in Michigan, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The Iowa chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America is online at iowapva.org.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA