During High Point University’s 12th annual Veterans Day Celebration, which welcomed more than 1,500 veterans and their families, the Zeta Phi Chapter presented two wounded veterans with all-terrain track chairs. The chapter raised more than $40,000 for The Independence Fund to sponsor the purchase, transport, and outfit of the chairs.
One of the track chairs went home with veteran Stephen Smerek, who is wheelchair-bound as a result of losing both legs while he served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer from 1965-68 in Vietnam. The all-terrain track chair will allow Smerek to better enjoy the outdoors and navigate his 10-acre property in Manitou Beach, Michigan. Smerek recalled playing traditional sports like football and baseball but said it all came to a stop as a result of his injuries.
“This track chair opens up all of the outdoors,” said Smerek, noting the Veterans Day event touched his heart.
Kris Lindsay, who was wounded in Southeast Asia while serving the Army from 1991 to 2015 as an engineer and other duties including presidential support, was unable to attend because of a recent surgery. He was represented by his wife Kellie. The all-terrain track chair will allow him to embrace his love of the outdoors, alongside his wife and children.
In 2016, the Zeta Phi Chapter partnered with The Independence Fund and began a student-led initiative aimed at raising money to provide Track Chairs for wounded veterans, and has given away eight track chairs to date. Additionally, the initiative spread to other chapters with members of the chapter sharing best practices and providing support. Across the Order, nearly $1 million has been raised and donated to provide track chairs and support The Independence Fund’s programs that help veterans overcome physical and psychological wounds of war.