St. Ignace Veteran Receives Donated All-Terrain Wheelchair


First published on POAM

The Police Officers Association of Michigan, through their partnership with Defender Mobility, donated their 45th TracFab wheelchair to a veteran in St. Ignace, Michigan. This donation goes to Chris Giles, a veteran and member of the 101st Airborne.

Read the statement from POAM’s Jim Tignanelli below.


Chris Giles continues to serve his country honorably, even today, but from 1967 to 1970 as a member of the 101st Airborne, he served in Vietnam. Like so many others, he was not only exposed to enemy weapons, he was also exposed to dangerous chemicals. Of course, like so many others, he was told “not to worry” because those chemicals were harmless to humans.

The effects of those chemicals have led to numerous illnesses and, ultimately, to a stroke which left him paralyzed down his right side. He was also left unable to speak in a recognizable language. Because of the paralysis, he couldn’t operate the standard wheelchair and became a prisoner, of sorts, to his room unless a friend (generally his son) was available to push him from place to place. Early this year, one of his friends, retired MSP trooper Mark Soffin, contacted me after reading about our foundation, Defender Mobility. I told him I would do what I could but that I had two people before him.

It’s amazing how many generous people surround me when these needs come up! Our POAM members were generous (as usual!) around our May convention. That “kick started” the process! The Patriot Fund, Inc., which came into our lives last year, had already been very generous this year, but we had given a chair to Jeff Hall in February, and we were on schedule to deliver one to Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Tom Maher in late May. Like magic, our friends came to the mark, and on September 21st, Ed Humpert (the Trac Fab distributor) and I loaded up a brand new Trac Fab Chair into my Silverado, and off we went to St. Ignace.

I am so fortunate to have the privilege of delivering these chairs on your behalf. Chris Giles, who has been trapped in an old chair, immediately jumped into this new off-road wheelchair! I wish I could share the video I have as he took to the dirt road alongside the delivery! The chair was equipped with a left-handed control, and in less than a minute, he had figured it out. Several of his friends and his son cheered as he disappeared around the bend. The good news is, he returned! All of you who helped make this happen should know that you provided freedom to a very deserving veteran that day.

Chris’s life changed in one minute. A minute that will last forever. Thank you!

Support Defender Mobility

Interested in supporting this organization? Make a donation online to the Defender Mobility wheelchair donation fund to support heroes like Chris Giles.

Also, you can nominate a military and police hero with an injury, limb loss, or limited mobility for a TracFab chair now.

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