May 21, 2014
It was a day that dawned like any other. But it would be a day that would change Marc Henretta’s life forever.
“It was October 1, 1989, at 2:06 p.m.,” recalls Henretta. “Not that I remember it exactly or anything. I crashed during a motocross race in Bixby, Okla., and flew over the handle bars, landing on a small hill.”
Henretta’s lower body fell on one side of the hill. His upper half crashed down on the other. Upon hitting the ground, the FCA US LLC employee immediately lost feeling from his upper legs down. He knew what was to come next wouldn’t be good.
“I had broken my back in three different places,” says Henretta. “I broke my T11, T12 and L1 vertebrae, and was paralyzed immediately.
“You can purchase a new vehicle and know that without a doubt you can put equipment that you need to live your life on that vehicle and get up to $1,000 reimbursed by FCA US,” says Henretta. “It’s a fantastic program. It’s a great way to get out and be independent.”
Declaration of Independence
Fast forward nearly 25 years later. Henretta is a hand cyclist who clocks close to 800 miles each year on his bike, an avid skier and captain of the Michigan Sled Dogs sled hockey team. Fueled by a spirit that refused to allow his disability to define him, Henretta custom-fit his vehicle to accommodate his active lifestyle — with an assist from the Company’s Automobility Program, a program committed to helping members of the disabled community find the right FCA US vehicle and adapt it to fit their individual needs.
“The program is larger than life,” praises Henretta, who took advantage of the Automobility Program’s $1,000 reimbursement offer for expenses related to purchasing conversion equipment for FCA US vehicles. “It’s hard for me to put into words. Being disabled is expensive — even if you choose to do nothing besides just live life.
When you want to be active, doing all the things you did before, you need a vehicle that can get you there. And the FCA US Automobility Program helps make that happen.”
After eight days in an Oklahoma hospital and three weeks in a rehabilitation institute following his accident, Henretta resolved to pursue a life of no limits. The 44-year-old has hand-cycled 620 miles from San Francisco to San Diego in just seven days to raise money in the Dodge Million Dollar Challenge for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and also practices with his sled hockey team every Sunday morning, taking the ice for about 28 games per season.
“It’s a great sport,” says Henretta of his sled hockey passion, a form of the sport in which a custom sled is mounted on two blades and players use two sticks to propel themselves and also pass and shoot. “We have 12 disabled people on our team, with a wide-range of disabilities, from spinal cord injuries to cancer survivors to wounded warriors and more.” In 2010, Henretta led the Sled Dogs to a championship in one of the world’s largest sled hockey tournaments, held in London, Ontario, Canada.
Henretta gets to the rink in a 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Limited, his everyday vehicle, modified with hand controls installed with the help of the Company’s Automobility Program.
“You can purchase a new FCA US vehicle and know that without a doubt you can put equipment that you need to live your life on that vehicle and get up to $1,000 reimbursed by FCA US,” says Henretta. “It’s a fantastic program. It’s a great way to get out and be independent.”
Jim Munson, a sales rep for a medical equipment company from Brighton, Mich., pursues the lifestyle he wants, despite a disability that requires the use of a wheelchair. In fact, the biggest hindrance to his athletic pursuits might be his age.
“I’m 47, but I’m still extremely active,” says Munson with a chuckle. The dedicated skier recently traveled to Ohio to assist at a ski clinic for disabled veterans, and in the summer, like Henretta, he can often be found hand cycling. Munson has purchased and converted three vehicles through the FCA US Automobility Program, including his current ride, a 2010 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
“The company that installed my hand controls charged $995,” says Munson. “Basically, it was like getting a free set of hand controls installed in my minivan. It worked out great for me. The ability to get in my car and just go is perfect.”
For Jeff Marcel, an engineer from Harper Woods, Mich., the FCA US Automobility Program represents an independent lifestyle. Marcel first used the program in 1993 and has converted four FCA US vehicles, including his current 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. Just as important as the reimbursement aspect of the program, according to Marcel, is the help provided in locating a reputable adaptive equipment installer and also in financing the needed modifications.
“It’s very stressful when you become disabled and realize you can’t operate a standard vehicle,” says Marcel, who modified his Dodge Caravan with a lift, hand controls including a hand brake and hand accelerator, a steering assist system and an electronic shifting mechanism, among many conversions.
“Now you need all this equipment, and you might not know what to do. The dealer can help guide you through, and it’s immensely helpful. I worked with the dealer and an upfitter who guided me through the whole process in getting the equipment picked out.
“The Caravan allows me to get to work every day. I can live a normal life and provide for my family with the van. It’s a great program. It makes my world a whole lot easier, and it made me completely independent.”
FCA US Automobility: Keeping You Moving
From sedans, to minivans, trucks, SUVs and the latest crossover models, the FCA US Automobility Program is committed to helping build the ride that’s right for you and helping convert it to meet individual needs.
When buying or leasing a new 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle from a participating dealership or FIAT studio, FCA US will provide a cash reimbursement to help reduce the cost of installing the adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a vehicle.
If assistance is required in financing an adapted vehicle purchase/lease, the Automobility Program can help finance the cost of the new vehicle, as well as any modifications made. The FCA US Automobility Program reimbursement may be combined with other eligible national and regional incentives available at the time of vehicle purchase to save even more.
For complete program eligibility requirements, rules and guidelines, and to find out how to apply, visit www.chryslerautomobility.com.