The Segway Riders Club of The Villages celebrated its 10th anniversary by donating a seventh Segway to a deserving disabled veteran.
Jack Johnson, an Army veteran, served from 1961-67, including tours in Vietnam, where he sustained injuries to his back and legs.
Johnson, an avid volunteer for veterans causes, just received his pin for 5,000 volunteer hours working as a Veterans Affairs service officer. He also is a past commandant of Disabled American Veterans #150 and served in that capacity at the state level.
Johnson was awarded the Segway at the club’s monthly meeting at SeaBreeze Recreation Center on Wednesday morning. He thanked the club members, posed for a few photographs and then rode off on his Segway for the one-mile route to his home in the Village of Duval – because he had to get to his volunteer job at the VA.
Following the presentation of the Segway, club president Ken Redding gave a brief history of the club. Founded in 2009 by Tom and Barbara Davis, along with Dave Holzapfel, owner of Segway of Central Florida, the club now has 370 members. The first president of the club, Terri Lewis, was in attendance, along with past president Matt Friedland, who was credited by Redding “as the force behind channeling our fundraising efforts to a local recipient instead of giving to a national organization.”
“When the club was founded, we wanted to combine having fun with a fundraising component,” Redding said. “Over the first few years we donated $40,000 to a national organization, Segs4Vets. We basically just wrote checks. It was Matt who said, ‘We raise the money locally, why don’t we give it back locally.’ He started us down the path of giving Segways to veterans right here in this area.”
“So far, we have given to veterans from the Army, Navy and Air Force. We need to find a deserving Marine or Coast Guard veteran so we have all the services covered,” Redding said.
The club started giving Segways locally in 2015 and has so far donated seven. Members raise the money to purchase the Segways with their twice-a-year Segway Experience. The next one will be in November.
Redding also thanked John Rohan and Pam Henry, of The Villages Recreation Department, for their support over the years.
“They have been very supportive of Segway riding here in The Villages since the very beginning,” he said.
In addition to fundraising, the club goes on monthly rides and 28 members are part of the drill team that performs in Villages parades and the Citrus Parade in Orlando.
“We are going to be part of the Fruitland Park Days parade for the first time this year,” said Bruce McGinness, drill team leader. “Anyone who wants to see what we are all about should come check us out at that parade on March 30.”
To find out more about the club or the Segway Experience, go to www.srctv.org.