Veterans with Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors Benefit From Garmin Automotive OEM Technology Show & Charity Golf Outing
SOUTH LYON – Tom Jones, a U.S. Army veteran and the program coordinator for Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MiOFO), was overwhelmed as an army of golf carts prepared to take on Tanglewood Golf Club.
“I ran last year’s hunting season for veterans with a whole bunch of volunteers on $5,500 and let me tell you, vets drink a lot of coffee,” he said. “What is happening here today will change lives for a lot of veterans and buy a lot of coffee, too.”
The 6th annual Garmin Automotive OEM Technology Show & Charity Golf Outing attracted 360 people, including 144 golfers to Tanglewood Tuesday, and proceeds from the morning technology show, the afternoon golf, a silent auction, various creative contests and donations are slated to benefit MiOFO,
MiOFO is a cooperative partnership which provides outdoor recreation opportunities for individuals with health challenges, and coordinates support networks that facilitate recovery through connecting with nature on hunting trips, fishing trips, camping and more. The Ann Arbor-based Eisenhower Center, one of the nation’s leading treatment centers for PTSD and TBI for veterans, is task-involved in therapy and employs Jones to direct MiOFO, which is a 501c3.
The Garmin outing has raised almost $250,000 in the first five years, and Jones will be elated at whatever amount comes MiOFO’s way when the money is counted this year.
“I never sought this out, never thought to have a golf fundraiser for vets to go hunting,” he said. “They said they Googled us, and then they came to talk to us and they picked us because of what we have been doing.”
The latest in Garmin’s array of infotainment systems, display audio systems, head units, HMI design concepts, camera solutions and wearables were on display. Some celebrities like former Detroit Lions kicker Eddie Murray were on hand. Fun was the order of the day. Helping veterans was the goal.
“We take great care in picking our charity,” Rob Guzanek, marketing manager, Garmin Automotive OEM, said. “We find out what they are all about, and MiOFO is all about real help for veterans.”
John Cornack, president of Eisenhower Center, said Garmin is not just out to help veterans as if helping veterans is the flavor of the day.
“They are about ‘how do we give back?’” Cornack said. “Let’s face it they are a big player in the war machine, so they are an amazing company in that they are giving back in real ways. This is the real world meeting the real world.
“After these guys get hurt, Garmin is all in, Eisenhower is all in, and the DNR of Michigan is all in. We get them back in the woods, back camping. We get them out in the wilderness where they are happy. Rehab starts with being happy again, and it builds from there.”
Jones said MiOFO will expand its programs, including access to 4.6 million acres of public access land in Michigan.
“A lot of people see it as only for the able-bodied, but with funding we can get Action Trackchairs and Action Trankstanders to the guys who came back from Afghanistan without arms and legs and get then back in the woods hunting, doing things they love,” he said.
Brian Reno, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who served in Desert Storm, heads Michigan Outdoor Mobility, a company that works with MiOFO to get veterans all-terrain battery-powered wheelchairs called Trackchairs and Trackstanders produced by Action Manufacturing in Marshall. He is also a MiOFO board member, and was on hand demonstrating the Trackchairs and Trackstanders, which cost between $13,000 and $18,000 each.
“Most of the recipients of these are not paying for them,” he said. “We have the great organizations and things going on like this event that together get these chairs to vets and change their lives. We get them back where they thought they would never go again, in nature, camping, farming. It makes them mobile again. A standard wheelchair will not go where these will.”
Currently MiOFO is conducting a special essay contest in which the winner will receive an Action Trackchair – an all-terrain wheelchair that helps those with mobility challenges enjoy the outdoors. The winner must have the medical need for this type of device and no other means of obtaining it. Read about it at the following link: http://bit.ly/2qQxc3v.
People interested in helping veterans can by using the donate button at www.miofo.org. To learn more find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichiganFreedomOutdoors.
Learn more about the Eisenhower Center at www.eisenhowercenter.com.
Learn more about Garmin and its technology at http://www.garmin.com/en-US/.
via Greg Johnson