Proud minivan driver William Lucas Walker tips his hat at an organization that is helping veterans with the Toyota Sienna they won in the 100 Cars for Good campaign.
I’m a man who loves his minivan. Get past it.
I didn’t buy it for my wife. I don’t have a wife. I could tell you I bought it to haul things –kids, furniture, lumber. And while that’s not a lie, if I’m being perfectly honest the main reason I wanted a minivan is because it has automatic sliding doors like the ones in Star Trek.
When it comes to cars, everyone has his own requirements.
Take paralyzed vets. The Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America is a nonprofit organization that serves military vets living with spinal cord injuries. And while I’m sure those guys are as dazzled by the Star Trek doors as I am, they had more pressing reasons for needing a minivan.
“Our organization is all about mobility, accessibility and healthcare,” PVA Executive Director Joe Dornbrock told me. “A very large part of what we do is make sure our members are getting the correct healthcare.”
Based in Pittsburgh, Keystone PVA serves vets throughout Pennsylvania. Given the expanse of their mission, there were “gaps that needed plugging,” Dornbrock said. Mainly around the issue of transportation. Many veterans in wheelchairs do not have the ability to get from home to the VA Hospital, Joe told me, as well as medical and other appointments.
“Mobility in particular is the most pressing issue for PVA members.”
Cue the Star Trek theme, because this is where things get cool. As in, Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good campaign.
In one of the more innovative uses of social media I’ve come across, Toyota launched a program through which the public can nominate its favorite nonprofit organizations to receive a free Toyota.
Who doesn’t love a free car?
Each year, for three years running, Toyota has donated 100 vehicles to nonprofit agencies servicing a variety of needs — medical, educational, animal welfare and human services, for starters.
Once the public narrows the list to 250 finalists on the Toyota 100 Cars for Good Facebook page, it’s open voting. It’s not Toyota doing the picking. It’s people like you and me. We get to vote for any organization we feel is most deserving of a new vehicle, as long as that organization is not our family. Winners get to choose from among five of the company’s most popular models, according their needs.
Response to Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America was massive. In February, the organization was informed they’d been one of the 100 winners picked to receive a brand-new Toyota.
It made me happy to hear the PVA picked the same model our family did: the biggest, roomiest, most versatile of the bunch. The Sienna with the Star Trek doors. Keystone even took it a step further, opting for the Sienna Mobility, making it possible for them to customize it with even more space-age technology, like a rear power ramp that makes getting vets in wheelchairs aboard as easy as beaming up.
The corporate giant and the nonprofit found themselves on the same page. Toyota and the Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America both understand that sometimes exploring brave new worlds just means getting to the dentist.
Or out in a crowd.
Joe told me that this past Monday he beamed up as many vets as he could cram into that gleaming silver Sienna and headed downtown to Liberty Avenue to show off that baby in this year’s Veterans Day Parade.
The cheers were deafening.
Written in partnership with Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good
This post is sponsored by Toyota’s philanthropy program 100 Cars for Good. Starting October 1 and ending November 19, do your own good deed by voting for your favorite organizations and causes on the 100 Cars for Good Facebook App.