Ten people with disabilities who have not been able to drive will get the opportunity to drive again as part of the pre-grand opening celebration of DRIVEN, a new, unique rehabilitation facility to help individuals with disabilities improve their health and lead more independent lives. DRIVEN is being built in downtown Las Vegas by Sam Schmidt and Conquer Paralysis Now and will be opening in December.
On October 28th from 9:00 am-1:00 pm at the SPEEDVEGAS Driving Experience, 10 people who all have very debilitating disabilities that have prevented them from driving a vehicle will have the opportunity to drive again in a specially designed Corvette built by Arrow Electronics for Schmidt. The SAM (semi-autonomous motorcar) Corvette utilizes a driver’s head motion to steer and a mouthpiece for accelerate and brake. Schmidt, a quadriplegic, has driven the Arrow Corvette at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and established a record top speed of 190 mph at the Nellis Air Force Base.He also received a Nevada state driver’s license to operate the vehicle. Speed Vegas is located at 14200 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Schmidt, a Las Vegas-area resident and former Indy Racing League driver, said the mission of the DRIVEN rehabilitation center is to create an affordable multidisciplinary center where individuals with disabilities can improve their physical, mental and emotional health, increase independence, and enhance their overall quality of life using a holistic approach to wellness.
“The opportunity to drive the Arrow Corvette was something I would never have imagined just a few years ago and was a dream come true,” Schmidt said. “Now, as part of the DRIVENgrand opening, we can share that opportunity with others to live the dream as well. It is just part of the vision we have for DRIVENin helping those with disabilities.”
DRIVEN is a not-for-profit center and is holding a grand opening celebration at the facility at 701 E. Bridger Avenue on Saturday, October 27 from 6:00-9:00 pm. DRIVENwill serve people with all forms of disabilities and neurological conditions, not just those with spinal cord injuries, including veterans and wounded warriors. These include people suffering from stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, brain injuries, amputees and Transverse Myelitis.
“The number one reason I have been able to go 18 years since my accident without a serious medical issue is the ongoing physical therapy and support I have received,” said Schmidt, who founded Conquer Paralysis Now (formerly The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation) in 2000 following his accident practicing for an IndyCar race. “I have been very fortunate to have a team of people to help me through the years with my daily therapy. However, 99% of the population are not as lucky as me.”
The goal for the new rehab center is to make available at affordable prices to the people of Las Vegas and Clark County living with disabilities the same life-changing rehab and support that Schmidt has received to help them live longer, healthier, more independent lives.
“We are taking the best business models in physical therapy and support that I have experienced in the past 10 years and developing a new hybrid approach for our DRIVEN center,” Schmidt explained.
The center is being built in a partnership with NextStep, which is part of a cooperative network of cutting-edge rehabilitation centers designed to provide and develop therapies to promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life for people living with paralysis. DRIVEN will be staffed by dedicated professionals who are specially trained to deliver the treatment and therapies unique to people with disabilities. Among those professionals will be Brandi Kurka, an adapted physical activity therapist with 15 years of experience, including the last five years supporting Schmidt.
The center will help to push people living with a disability further along to independent living by offering access to affordable rehabilitation programs and services that were not available to them before through outpatient treatment. It also will offer advocacy services such as assistance with obtaining affordable housing, transportation, vehicles and employment.
Funding will come from foundations like Conquer Paralysis Now, private donations, Medicaid, public funding, grants and fundraisers with a focus on making the program as affordable as possible for everyone who has a disability.
Two other events supporting DRIVEN and Conquer Paralysis Now are being held on Sunday, October 28 in Las Vegas. Along with the driving event for the 10 people from disabilities, from 1:00-4:00 pm at the SPEEDVEGAS Driving Experience, attendees will have the opportunity to drive the exotic vehicle of their choice, take a ride with IndyCar stars, or even have the thrill of a high-speed drive with Schmidt in the Arrow Corvette.
Also, there will be an evening event at TopGolf, 4627 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, from 6:00-10:00 pm on October 28 with cash prizes and hole-in-one opportunities, along with a buffet reception, auction and cocktails. Schmidt and other celebrities also will be in attendance.