About Our Foundation
Where Defender Mobility Began
Our United States military veterans give so much to our country and ask for little in return. Their selflessness is truly remarkable, yet their lives post-service at times are not. Hindered from enjoying life to the fullest due to injury, limb loss and limited mobility, these unsung heroes miss out on things many of us take for granted. Simple pleasures like running after their children on the playground or fishing from the edge of a stream are luxuries that seem a distant past.
Defender Mobility, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization is on a mission to change that. We are determined to change the future of our disabled veterans- the ones that served with bravery and honor, and silently returned home to live peacefully with their families. Our sights are set on giving our nation’s heroes back their freedom, as they have selflessly protected ours, one chair at a time.
History/Walter Reed Memorial Hospital
Like many of the men that served in the United State’s military, the Defender Mobility Foundation has humble beginnings.
The foundation’s roots took hold when Jim Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), began visiting the Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C. during police week every year. Armed with a mission to “honor the defenders” and everything from t-shirts and iPods to Girl Scout cookies and hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards, Jim and other members of POAM went from room to room handing out gift bags.
The smiles evoked from each wounded soldier were priceless, but it was their selflessness that really stood out, even from the hospital bed. As a t-shirt was handed to one wounded soldier, a quadriplegic with one prosthetic arm, the soldier looked back at his brother and said, “Maybe you should give this shirt to him. He needs it more than I do.”
From that moment on the desire to do more for these humble warriors began to grow. It became clear that there was a chance to really change the lives of the veterans as donations for the Walter Reed Drive as poured in year after year. With each trip to Washington D.C., the donations and generosity grew as veterans, police officers, caring citizens and unknown gift-givers began to join the cause. In 2015 alone, more than 15 gift bags were put together, each with over $1,000 worth of gift cards, hygiene products, Kindle readers and even toys for the soldiers small children.
When monetary donations were given specifically for specialized, all-terrain wheelchairs, representing the latest innovation in wheelchair mobility, Defender Mobility was born. These chairs gave vets back some of their lost freedom caused by injury, amputation and war. They give fathers the opportunity to play with their children in the yard, take them to the playground, or to navigate to the edge of a stream in order to go fishing. It’s the simple things in life that make life so beautiful, and these veterans deserve to enjoy every single moment.
Again in May this year we will make our annual pilgrimage to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. If you would like to help fill our “happy bags” for deserving soldiers please consider donating online.