These national heroes can use the funds for almost anything as long as they are
getting out of the house and having fun.
By John Grossi
The Paralyzed Veterans of America California Chapter calls Long Beach home. Working out of the VA hospital on 7th Street, they work to advocate, support, and provide resources to paralyzed veterans throughout California. In addition to helping with medical-related problems, the organization describes their goal to simply “make life better.” One of their newest campaigns is the “100 Smiles Campaign” through which they are giving 100 members who have never received any grant money from the chapter in the past their first $1000 to go out and do something fun that puts a “smile on their face.”
Wayne Wassell has belonged to the PVACC since his spinal cord stroke in 1998. He greatly appreciated their technical help when he was facing the shock and change of learning to navigate the world as a paralyzed veteran. With the help of the organization and some friends, he was able to make both his home and his car wheelchair accessible and operable.
However, since the first few years of his stroke he had not been too active in their ongoing social activities as he worked full time. Then one day last year, he saw their newsletter about a bingo night and he happened to be free so he went.
The PVACC Director explained to Wassell about the “100 Smile Campaign.” The organization would give him $1000 to do whatever he wanted as long as he got out of the house and had fun.
Wassell, an avid Los Angeles sports fan, used the grant to attend professional football and baseball games with family and friends.
“I went to the preseason Rams vs Chargers, then regular season Chargers vs Raiders, Rams vs Lions, and in January, I’ll be going to Rams vs 49ers. I don’t have a favorite. I’m a fan of any LA team so I’ll root for Rams and Chargers. I went to about seven Dodger games last year as well!”
His Son’s Wedding
Another local veteran, Bill Grossett, was able to use the grant money from the “100 Smiles Campaign” to attend his son’s wedding at a winery in Temecula.
“The wedding was very unique. One of the greatest things was—it went off—the entire event—without a single hitch whatsoever in any sense. All my relatives live back East and they came and participated and everyone said it was the perfect wedding.”
Grossett’s grant helped pay for him and his wife to stay on-site at a special wheelchair accessible house at the vineyard that was also downstairs from where the wedding party was staying. They also were able to put on a beautiful and fun rehearsal dinner with a taco cart the night before the wedding.
He became paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2016. He had just retired and had been looking forward to spending retirement in a much different manner than reality presented. His appreciation to the help and support from the PVACC is endless. The feeling of seeing your son getting married and getting to be part of the entire weekend is worth much more than $1000 to a newly paralyzed father. It’s priceless.
That’s the purpose of the whole campaign. Veterans have sacrificed so much for their country. Paralyzed veterans have endured more than most ever should. There’s no strings attached to medical needs or anything like that for the “100 Smiles Campaign.” This money is strictly for smiles, one of the most valuable treats in life!
The mission of the Paralyzed Veterans of America California Chapter is to make lives better for Paralyzed Veterans and their families across Southern California. Learn more at PVACC.org.