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Pennzoil drives vehicle donation for paralyzed veterans

Rusty Barron, vice president of marketing, Shell Lubricants, and Istavan Kapitany, president of Shell Lubricants Americas, congratulate Hank Ebert on his brand new retrofitted 2013 Toyota Sienna XLE.

Pennzoil® has donated three retrofitted Toyota vehicles to three deserving veterans as part of the continued relationship between Pennzoil and Paralyzed Veterans of America. The 2013 Toyota Sienna XLE vans were unveiled and presented to the veterans prior to the 500 mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each veteran recipient received a vehicle of their choosing, retrofitted to their specific need.

Now in the second year of commitment to Paralyzed Veterans of America’s “Mission: ABLE” campaign, Pennzoil once again retrofitted vehicles for injured veterans so that these honorees can reclaim their freedom and love of driving. Pennzoil donated $250,000 to Paralyzed Veterans of America in 2013, $150,000 of which went to retrofit vehicles for injured veterans. The recipients of these retrofitted vehicles were selected through the “Love Your Car” program as coordinated by Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said, “By supporting Mission: ABLE through retrofitted vehicle donations, Pennzoil is helping re-instill that sense of freedom for veterans who are physically unable to drive a standard automobile.”

The recipients

Harlan “Hank” Ebert, a navy veteran and fishing enthusiast, is currently the only paraplegic professional fishing guide in Minnesota and enjoys giving back to the community. For Ebert, receiving a retrofitted vehicle will enable him to continue inspiring others on an even greater scale. “I enjoy helping others become reacquainted with the outdoors after being injured or disabled, whether young or old, newly injured or long term disabled, veteran or civilian,” said Ebert.

John Scott, a non-service connected veteran, volunteers at Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Great Plains, Iowa chapter events, and enjoys spending time with his family. “I have two athletic daughters who play sports. The new van will help me stay active and get my daughters back and forth to practices,” said Scott.

Sergeant and tank commander Terry Carr is a dedicated military veteran who participates in wheelchair sports and has a strong passion for black-and-white photography. Carr said receiving a vehicle would be special for him because, “Supporting my family is very important to me. With this new van I can pursue my dreams of getting into digital photography and produce a book to showcase the beauty of America.”

From the overall Pennzoil donation, $150,000 was used toward the specified modifications from each veteran. The retrofitted vehicles received modifications such as hand controls, wheelchair lifts and mounting ramps which were made by the professionals at BraunAbility, a manufacturer of wheelchair-accessible vans, ramps and wheelchair lifts. With these modifications, running daily errands, taking family vacations, getting to work and just enjoying the open road will be easier for the veterans and their families.

Recipient Selection

To find veterans in need, Paralyzed Veterans of America issued a call for entry to each of the organization’s 33 national chapters. Each chapter was asked to nominate one Paralyzed Veterans of America member in need of the retrofitted ride. From there, six finalists were carefully selected and put on the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s website for America to decide. From July 22 through August 2, 2013, thousands of votes were cast and Ebert, Scott and Carr were chosen as the recipients through the Love Your Car program.