Chapter 333 in Rockland County partnered with two other veteran service organizations and the VA Hudson Valley Healthcare System to provide handcycles to wounded veterans; two handcycles went to VA Hudson Valley and one went directly to a veteran. Additionally, the chapter donated a training Excelerator Handcycle for the Montrose Adaptive Sport Center. The donated handcycles are utilized both as a rehabilitation device as well as a recreational one. The chapter continues to actively fundraise in an effort to provide more handcycles to injured veterans.
The chapter began raising funds in October 2013, after chapter member Roy Tschudy met with the Executive Chapter Board and expressed his interest in helping veterans who had sustained above knee amputations and spinal cord injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tschudy worked closely with Jim Klein, director of the prosthetics department at the VA Hudson Valley hospital and chapter member Marcus Arroyo, a former Navy Seal and Purple Heart recipient. Arroyo possessed extensive knowledge of bicycles and after conducting research he found a company in South Carolina that manufactured handcycles. The company, TOPEND, is owned by another retired Navy Seal who was severely wounded during the Panama invasion and is also confined to a wheelchair.
Reaching out to veterans in need was a challenge for Tschudy and Arroyo because the HIPPA law prevented them from making direct contact with disabled veterans. Jim Klein provided assistance by connecting them with the manager in charge of the voluntary services program at Castle Point, Yvette Rodriguez. Yvette and Jim were instrumental in contacting two candidates who expressed a desire for the cycle who then in turn contacted Marcus and Roy.
Recently, in conjunction with the Military Order of Purple Heart Veterans a ceremony was conducted at the VA Hudson Valley hospital and three handcycles were delivered and presented. U.S. Army veteran Freddy De Los Santos was the very first recipient of the TOPEND handcycle and his particular cycle was ordered and made to specifications just for him and he won two races using the cycle.
“This was something very special done by these three VSOs and we can’t thank them enough for their service to the veterans we both serve and the level of caring and compassion they have for our veteran community, ” said Margaret B. Caplan, VA Hudson Valley medical center director.
Chapter 333 also provides scholarships to local veterans, provides help to veterans in need and visits local schools to share their experiences in Vietnam. Throughout the year, the chapter engages in many successful fundraising events, including their annual chapter picnic, fundraising events at street fairs and at various events in their community.
“Our time as military personnel has proven to be much more than serving our country, we have gained the insight to provide assistance to our brothers and sisters in need, ” wrote Tschudy.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the handcycle program may contact Roy Tschudy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marcus Arroyo at email@example.com.