U.S. Veteran Enjoys the Open Road with Hand Controls

American flag

Gregory Lee is undeniably a performance enthusiast. “I worked on cars as a boy,” Lee told K&N. “My first car, a ’55 Chevy 4-door with a 283, was a great learning platform. When I joined the Army at 17 years of age, I was trained as a mechanic. I loved fast cars. Bought a black-on-black Trans Am in ’78, and I was hooked on performance.”

There’s only one difference between Lee and the average horsepower-loving driver—he’s paralyzed from the waist down. After an accident left him without the use of his legs, he began researching ways to regain his independence.

“The VA offers driver training programs for veterans with disabilities,” he commented. “This entails simulator training, study with testing, and behind-the-wheel time before certification is awarded. I couldn’t see myself mastering this new way of driving without the training.” In reference to the training process, he admitted, “I had a few butterflies—I’ll qualify that.”

Lee with his co-pilot

Installing hand controls in his S10 pickup was a fairly quick process. “The initial installation took a little over an hour, as adjustments were necessary as we fit the system to the truck and to me. Now it can come off and go back on in less than ten minutes.”

“I will enjoy being able to drive to local venues to watch racing and see car shows,” he added. “Last summer there was a car show and nostalgia racing at Beech Bend Park. My wife dropped me off early in the day, and I rolled myself all over that place. This year I’ll be able to take myself!”

Lee has long been a fan of K&N® products. “I placed your filter in this vehicle within the first month of ownership. Talk about fun to drive.” K&N® filters are available for thousands of makes and models here.

Lee's new hand controls

About the Automotive Adaptive Equipment program (from the VA): “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides AAE to meet individual driving / passenger needs to Veterans and Servicemembers. The program is jointly administered by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). VHA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Services provide Veterans/Servicemembers a full range of services: driver’s evaluations and training; adaptive equipment to enable safe operation of a motor vehicle; and equipment which permits access to enter and exit their vehicle.”

As a U.S.-founded and based company, K&N® has long sought to support the brave men and women who are veterans of the U.S. military. One particularly special non-profit organization, The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, seeks to provide college funding to the children of military servicemembers killed in the line of duty—relieving a financial burden that often amounts to over thirty thousand dollars per student after federal assistance. Since 2002, the foundation has provided over 21 million dollars in scholarship assistance to military families, allowing the children of our most exceptional and heroic servicemembers to attend university. K&N® has donated over $100,000 toward helping the children of our heroes achieve their collegiate dreams.

Fallen Patriots was formed in memory of Sergeant William Delaney Gibbs, killed in action during Operation Just Cause and survived by his wife and unborn daughter. The foundation’s CEO, David Kim, has long held the belief that providing higher education to children is one of the most meaningful ways to honor the sacrifice of fallen servicemembers. For more information or to donate, please visit this link.

For more information on the Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) and Vehicle Modifications Program, please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. For more information or to donate to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, please follow this link. K&N® wishes to offer thanks to Gregory Lee and all current and former U.S. military servicemembers.