Scooter donation keeps a veteran mobile

·3 min read

Jun. 19—NEOSHO, Mo. — David Hansen has made a life of driving. He drove for himself and his family by driving a truck and running a cab service. He drove for his country overseas in the Vietnam War.

Of course he took to his new scooter like a pro.

Minutes after receiving the gift, he tried it out, driving it to all the places on his property where he enjoys working, including where he raises chickens.

"He was on it when I left this morning," said April Hernandez, a field supervisor with Positive Achievements, an in-home care agency. "I told him to go slow. He was hauling butt out there on it, and I was afraid he would hurt himself."

Hansen, 71, loves to work outside on his property. Hernandez said that "he is one of those go, go, go guys" who loves staying as active as he can. He loves working on his yard, Hernandez said, and also repairs lawnmowers and does auto repair and maintenance for family and close friends.

But he is dealing with circulatory issues that stem from a heart condition. After undergoing open heart surgery about two years ago to have an artery replaced, another artery continues to cause problems for him.

"He needs an artery replaced in his leg," said Mary McCreery, owner of Positive Achievements. "But his heart is so fragile. ..."

The scooter, a three-wheeled Go-Go model from Pride Mobility, was given to Hansen as a donation from the Clyde R. Burdick American Legion Post No. 163 in Neosho.

The vehicle is now serving a second veteran. Post Cmdr. Michael Birthelmer said it used to be the property of a Korean War veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and it was donated to the post by his widow, who did not want the recognition for the donation.

"Not long before the end of his life, he had lost a leg," Birthelmer said. "She had a scooter, a walker and cane left over after he passed, and she wanted to make sure they went to veterans."

The scooter was practically new, Birthelmer said, upon receiving it — he called it a hot rod. All that was missing were flame details or racing stripes. Birthelmer said the post was able to place it with Hansen.

The delivery was made Thursday. Hansen instantly jumped on board with excitement and tested out how it would get him around, and whether it would fit in his chicken house, McCreery said.

Hansen doesn't talk about his time spent in the Vietnam War much, said his caregivers. Hernandez said he drove gas trucks, tanks and other heavy vehicles during two tours of duty. He earned three Purple Hearts during the war, Birthelmer said.

Assisting veterans is one of the post's key missions, Birthelmer said. The post raises money through fundraisers such as poppy sales and raffles throughout the year, and accepts donations from the public.

"Our main objective is to help veterans," Birthelmer said. "Our new national commander has a motto, 'No veteran left behind.' By being able to do that, we are fulfilling that mission statement."

McCreery said Hansen's potential problems with a foot — a diabetic-like condition for someone who does not have diabetes — will be a challenge of both mobility and mentality. The scooter is already helping him win that latter battle.

"Because he has been so active all of his life, this is going to be hard for him," McCreery said. "With this, he is still able to get outside. He is not an inside person."

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