Segway: Segs4Vets and Jimi Heselden

Jimi Heselden, the owner of Segway Inc. made a personal gift of 1,000 Segways to improve the mobility of American wounded warriors just before his untimely death.

Jerry Kerr, the president and co-founder of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (www.draft.org), the sponsor of the Segs4Vets program, extended condolences to Jimi Heselden's family, friends and colleagues today in a statement that made public Mr. Heselden's generous gift for the first time.

"America's wounded warriors have lost a great friend. The British public is familiar with Jimi Heselden's philanthropy but his generosity stretched far beyond the borders of Great Britain,'' he said. "Jimi donated 1,000 Segways, a gift valued at more than $5 million, to the Segs4Vets program which provides the mobility devices to American military service members who are disabled by injuries in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jimi's breathtaking generosity was scheduled to be announced next week at the Segs4Vets presentation ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, D.C. We were looking forward to thanking Jimi in person and are pained that we will not be able to do so.

"Jimi's tragic death is a staggering loss and we send our heartfelt condolences to Jimi's wife Julie, family and friends, his colleagues and the British public,'' said Kerr.

The gift means that the Segs4Vets program will be able to triple the number of recipients over the next few years and realize the organization's dream of providing the mobility device to every disabled veteran who needs one. The program has given away 500 Segways in the last five years to combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who sustained injuries limiting their ability to walk.

Forty-eight wounded warriors, many still undergoing treatment at the Army's Walter Reed Medical Center, will receive Segways on October 6 at a presentation ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. More than 30 of the recipients lost one or both legs in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The others sustained soft tissue damage, spinal cord injuries and other serious injuries which restrict mobility.

Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) promotes the use of universal design and technology to allow people with disabilities and the elderly to continue to live rich, fulfilling lives. The founding members of DRAFT discovered that the Segway, a universal design mobility device, was easier to use and more adaptable to more environments than a wheelchair for some disabled people with limited mobility. The device has found a loyal following among the disabled even though it is not considered a medical device under federal law.

DRAFT received a rare blanket waiver from the Pentagon that allows active duty service members to accept a gift worth more than $1,000. It is certified as one of America's best charities. Recipients have used their Segways to attend college classes, go to work, stay on active duty and to engage in recreational activities with their families.

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