LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 22, 2012) – Local business Superior Van and Mobility announced today it will join Indiana-based accessible vehicle manufacturer BraunAbility as a sponsor of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
For more than 35 years Superior Van and Mobility has sold and serviced BraunAbility mobility products to individuals with disabilities in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. When BraunAbility announced it would join Sam Schmidt Motorsports in sponsoring the No. 99 car, Superior Van and Mobility owner Sam Cook felt it only made sense to continue that partnership on the racetrack.
“It is a great honor to partner with two inspirational leaders like Ralph Braun and Sam Schmidt,” said Cook. “These two individuals inspire people with disabilities everyday with their drive to overcome obstacles.”
Based in Winamac, Ind., BraunAbility is an industry leader in personal mobility, including the manufacturing of wheelchair vans, wheelchair lifts and other mobility accessories. The company, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was founded by Ralph Braun in 1972 based on his own need for mobility as a wheelchair user himself.
"Racing has always been one of the great loves in my life," said Ralph Braun. "Another is giving people with mobility challenges a way to get on the road to fully experience their lives. Bringing those two loves together at the Indy 500 fulfills a lifelong dream for me."
Like Ralph Braun, Sam Schmidt also overcame his own mobility challenges to go on to lead an incredibly successful career. Schmidt was injured in a testing crash at Walt Disney World Speedway in January 2000, just a few months after earning his first IndyCar victory. The accident left Schmidt a quadriplegic, but it hardly slowed him down.
“This relationship with Braun is more than just a sponsorship to me, ” said SSM owner Sam Schmidt. “Ralph Braun has been an inspiration to me since my accident, showing constant drive and determination to build a company of over 800 employees that delivers life-changing equipment to people with disabilities, including myself. We have become quite close, and I have never once heard him complain about his situation. He's a firm believer that you can do anything if you put your mind to it."
The fact that the race occurs during National Mobility Awareness Month is especially fitting. The awareness month serves to educate the public that people with disabilities can live an active, mobile lifestyle. Individuals with mobility issues, more than 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada, comprise the second-largest minority in the U.S. More than 6 million are veterans.
The No. 99 BraunAbility/Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports car is being driven by Californian Townsend Bell, who will be making his sixth start in the Indianapolis 500. His best finish is fourth in 2009, which matches his best start in 2011. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” takes the green flag at Noon ET on Sunday, May 27.
About Superior Van and Mobility
Superior Van & Mobility is dedicated to providing persons with disabilities the most innovative mobility solutions on the market. Celebrating its 36th year of serving the disabled community, Superior provides lowered floor minivans, mobility seating options, hand controls, Scooters and Wheelchair Lifts, and a variety of other driving aids, all of which meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Superior Van & Mobility has seven locations throughout Indiana, Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee and also offers equipment training for all of its products. For more information, visit www.superiorvan.com.
About The Braun Corporation
The Braun Corporation is the largest manufacturer of wheelchair-accessible vans, ramps, and wheelchair lifts worldwide, enabling people with physical disabilities to regain mobility and lead active and independent lives. The company was founded in 1972 by Ralph Braun, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age and was unable to walk by the age of 15. The company offers the most diverse line of vehicle platforms in the industry. The corporation is based in Indiana, U.S.A. For more information, please visit www.braunability.com.
About Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after an accident during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights championship. SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights history with 47 race wins and five championships. In addition, SSM has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001 and won the coveted Indy 500 pole in 2011.
About National Mobility Awareness Month
National Mobility Awareness Month is the inaugural May celebration that encourages people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. Founded in 1989 as a non-profit trade association, The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association sponsors the awareness month with the assistance of more than 600 mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers and driver rehabilitation specialists dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities.