Irvine-based Kia Motors America and the Wounded Warrior Project came together at the New York International Auto Show this week to present Corporal Christopher Melendez with a specially modified 2012 Kia Soul. Melendez, a veteran of the U.S. Army, was on tour in Iraq when he was injured by an IED during a routine patrol, damaging his legs and arms.
Working with auto show organizers, Kia arranged to have the Soul refitted by New York-based Bussani Mobility Team, an auto modification firm, to meet Melendez’s needs and abilities for day-to-day driving. The car’s steering column has been fitted with a device to allow the wheel to be turned with one hand, while maintaining control of both the steering wheel and the vehicle. The modifications allow Melendez to drive the car comfortably and safely, but can also be removed so that others who do not require them can also drive the vehicle.
The Wounded Warrior Project assisted in sponsoring the modification of the vehicle. The Project is a Florida-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs and assistance to veterans and service members injured in the line of duty.
Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing and communications for Kia Motors America, said that contributing the vehicle was a privilege for the automaker.
"Kia Motors understands that it is not only important to show our commitment to the U.S. market through investment and job creation, but also to support the service men and women in our country's armed forces," Sprague said. "The Wounded Warrior Project provides invaluable services to the men and women who have been injured in the line of duty, and it is an honor to donate one of our most popular vehicles to Corporal Melendez as a way to show our appreciation and support for those who have sacrificed so much."
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