GM will fund the building of 10 prototype hand cycles for use in marathons next year
(Washington, DC -- December 7, 2012) In advance of Saturday's 113th Army-Navy Game, Chevrolet and students from Michigan Technological University revealed a new hand cycle designed to make it easier for wounded veterans to compete in racing events, including marathons.
In addition, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson announced GM will build 10 prototypes for use next year by the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans in marathons across the country.* Akerson will accompany retired Marine Cpl. Joseph Woodke of Port Hope, Mich., a member of the Achilles Freedom Team, as he rides the new cycle onto the field during the first quarter of Saturday's game.
"GM has a long tradition of serving those who serve. That includes devoting our engineering and technology resources to give these veterans a competition-worthy cycle that honors their sacrifice for our country," said Akerson.
Stronger, as well as more comfortable, durable and portable than current commercially available cycles, the cycle was designed by Michigan Tech mechanical engineering students as part of a senior project named Huskies Helping Heroes. Sponsored by GM and mentored by Chevrolet engineers and Michigan Tech faculty, the students spent time with the wounded veterans to observe their competitions and design a cycle that meets their needs.
Three-wheel hand cycles allow athletes to lean forward while pumping the wheels with their hands. For veterans who are amputees or who have sustained other serious injuries, this is often a better solution for racing than a traditional wheelchair. GM's Military Discount Program underwrites several Achilles Freedom Team competitions, and has supplied cycles and a Chevrolet Silverado HD for transporting them.
Chevrolet is the Official Vehicle of the Army-Navy Game, which will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and aired on CBS. Kickoff is 3 p.m. EST. Joining Akerson and Hayes on the field Saturday will be Michigan Tech senior James Cook, of Lexington, Ky.; and GM engineer Alexa Ellswood.
"I loved working with the students and seeing their energy and passion," Ellswood said. "This isn't their last class. It's their first job."
The new cycle uses high-strength steel alloys for durability; improved restraints for comfort and safety; and designs that make them more portable and less prone to damage during transit. For example, a pivoting fork-to-frame attachment allows the front wheel assembly to fold into the seat during travel, which reduces the overall size of the cycle.
Huskies Helping Heroes formed in January with four teams and grew to five in September.
"This is the most rewarding assignment I've ever worked on," said Michigan Tech senior Brett Jenkins of Troy, Mich., who led one of the student engineer teams.
The Army-Navy Game, among college football's biggest rivalries, pits the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen against the U.S. Military Academy Black Knights. At a vehicle display near the stadium, Chevrolet representatives will distribute free seat cushions and hot cocoa. Fans can see a special Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that will be auctioned in January to benefit the Achilles Freedom Team.
GM and the GM Military Discount Program began their affiliation with the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded in Veterans in 2010. Achilles officials visit with wounded service members as they recuperate in military hospitals, where they can learn to use specialized adaptive devices, such as hand cycles, for competitions.
"The Achilles Freedom Team is thrilled to be the first to compete in these ground-breaking, state-of-the-art hand cycles, as it will take their racing goals to the next level," said Genna Griffith, the team's executive director. "We are so grateful for the continuous support of the GM Military Discount Program and Chevrolet."