I ran across this article and thought too wonderful as important not to share and support.
Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) is an organization with the primary mission of providing a weekend of off-roading, camping, and in some cases fishing, to our country’s wounded military members all over the United States. This will provide them with much deserved fun and excitement as they traverse the most extreme terrain our great country has to offer in a variety of the best off-road capable vehicles ever built.
On the weekend of April 4-5, 2009, the WFTW program will begin in Florida. From there, the founder will travel around the country attending other WFTW events. Along the way, members of off-road clubs all across the United States will host over 20 special events for the brave men and women and accompany them on the trails in their area. Riding with the groups will give the wounded service members an opportunity to ride along in a variety of modified off-road vehicles, which will surely bring smiles to the faces of our esteemed passengers. At nightfall, they will camp out in the most beautiful parks and forests in the country. This will continue until September 27, 2009.
To increase the sensation that an open-air vehicle provides, a brand new 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon has been purchased. The doors will be removed, which will benefit those who have lost partial eyesight and/or hearing, a common result of I.E.D., E.F.P., rocket and mortar attacks.
The secondary mission of the WFTW program is to increase awareness about our country’s men and women in uniform in the hope others will do something nice for our service members. Finally, our last mission is to raise money for military based charities so that the effects of the WFTW organization will be felt long after the program has come to an end.
This is not a political website in support of one party or another, or in support of past wars or the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or against them. The only support here is for the American men and women in the armed services.
Below is the vehicle the founder will drive during the program. It’s currently being heavily modified by Overbuilt Customs of Jacksonville, Florida. The vehicle will tow a custom trailer being built by Outlander Trailers.
4-Wheelin’ for the Wounded
Standing beside his monster Jeep, its hard to imagine Jason Havlick as a warrior. He is clean cut and 6 feet tall, and the Jeep towers over him, its huge wheels reaching almost to his hips.
The shimmery black of the Jeep, which stands above 7 feet in height, is pristine and clean and as Havlick brushes away a speck of dust on a monster wheel, he smiles.
Havlick was in the military for 12 years. He returned to the United States from Iraq late fall of last year.
In April he will take this Jeep on a cross country tour and once he leaves the First Coast, the Jeep won’t be anywhere near as pristine and clean, because he won’t be sticking to main road. Havlick will make his way around the United States over the course of six months, taking wounded veterans off roading and camping as a part of Wheelers for the Wounded.
“While I was over there [in Iraq], one of the Marines lost both of his legs from the knees down,” Havlick said.
The Marine, a friend of Havlick’s, was traveling in a Hummer when an improvised explosive device hit the vehicle and exploded.
“My idea was when I got back I would take a trip for two months,” he said. “I wanted to stop in Texas to take him off roading and camping.”
Havlick contacted the off roading club in the town where his friend lived to see if they knew of any other wounded veterans who might be interested in participating.
“It started as word of mouth and grew from there,” said Havlick.
What started as a two month trip to decompress has turned into a six month adventure across the country to help wounded veterans have fun.
The tour will kick off in Ocala next month. From there, Havlick will hitch up a monster trailer, to go with the monster Jeep, and head west, traveling through Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Colorado.
Wheelers for the Wounded will make 24 stops through more than 20 states. Havlick has contacted clubs at each location so each event will have a party atmosphere, with food and entertainment and, of course, off roading.
He said the host clubs have all held minor fundraisers to help offset the cost of food and entertainment for the events, but the cost of the six month treck is all out of his own pocket.
“I’m going to be broke by the end of this program,” he said. “I’ve put my life savings into this. I might have to cruise in neutral, downhill to get back to Florida.”
But that doesn’t matter to Havlick. This 37 year old Jacksonville native said he can always go out and make more money.
“There are a lot of charities that raise money for wounded veterans,” he said. “I wanted to actually spend time with people and not just throw money at their problems. I want them to forget, for at least a weekend, and realize that people care about them.”
As for the Marine in Texas, Havlick said he was surprised.
“Now its gotten so big he can’t believe it,” Havlick said. “He’s flying up to Nevada to attend the Reno event too.”
The Jeep is completely custom built. Havlick said he started the building process while he was still overseas, using the internet to contact mechanics and get the parts to Overbuilt Customs in Jacksonville.
“I’m a free spirited guy,” he said. “I like to bounce around. It’s going to be fun and its 100 percent voluntary.”
He plans to only travel back country roads on his way back.
For more information about Wheelers for the Wounded, visit: www.wheelersforthewounded.org