• General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson address the gathering at a press conference unveiling a new prototype hand cycle designed to make it easier for wounded veterans to compete in racing events Saturday, December 8, 2012 prior to the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, PA. GM will fund the building of 10 prototype hand cycles for use in marathons next year. (Photo by Janette McVey for Chevrolet)
Chevrolet and students from Michigan Technological University have teamed up to build some prototype hand cycles, designed to allow wounded veterans to compete in racing events.

Three-wheel hand cycles have proven useful for amputee or other seriously injured athletes in the past, as the design allows for them to lean forwards while pedaling with their hands. This new cycle, designed by MTU engineering students, has been built to be stronger, more comfortable and more portable than existing hand cycles. In fact, during the design process, students and their Chevy engineer mentors spent time with wounded vets to better understand their cycling needs. The result was a design that incorporated high-strength steel alloys as well as improved, more comfortable restraints.

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson announced that the automaker plans to build ten of the prototype cycles, all to be used in marathons next year by the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans. The project cycle made its debut at the yearly Army-Navy football game this past weekend, on a special vehicle display and during an on-field first-quarter appearance. Read on for the full GM press release, or scroll down to see a short video about the build.

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Chevy, Michigan Tech Reveal Cycle for Wounded Veterans

GM will fund the building of 10 prototype hand cycles for use in marathons next year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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."

About GM's Military Support
With nearly 5,000 military veteran employees, General Motors' support for the United States armed forces spans generations. Today, Chevrolet assists Cell Phones for Soldiers, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund, a variety of employment and grassroots initiatives, and is the Official Vehicle of the Army-Navy Game. The GM Military Discount program offers the industry's best discounts on most Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles for active duty, reserves, veterans (within one year of discharge date) and retirees and spouses of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. GM also is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring our Heroes initiative aimed and finding meaningful employment for veterans transitioning to civilian life. GM's military community can be found on Facebook.

About the Achilles Freedom Team
The Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans was founded in 2004 by Achilles International as a rehabilitation program that trains and sponsors recently wounded servicemen to participate in mainstream races across the nation. For more information, please visit www.achillesinternational.org or find us on Facebook at Achilles International.

About Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University (mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

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