Man buys all-terrain wheelchair for veteran
To learn more about the Independence Fund or to donate, visit www.independencefund.org.
Glenwood Springs resident Ken Kriz was watching “The O’Reilly Factor” on March 19, just as he has for almost 20 years, when he heard something unexpected: his name.
“It caught me off guard; it just floored me,” Kriz said with a laugh. “I happened to see it on the 6 o’clock, and he comes on again at 9, so I recorded the one at 9 o’clock.”
In his Tip of the Day segment, O’Reilly gave a shout-out to Kriz for giving up season football tickets to buy an all-terrain wheelchair for a wounded veteran.
“We are living in an age where narcissism is running wild; the mantra for many is, ‘Where’s mine?’” O’Reilly said in his segment. “So when I heard that Ken Kriz, who lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, gave up his season tickets to the Denver Broncos to buy a track wheelchair for a wounded vet, I was very impressed … Ken Kriz is a generous man.”
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Kriz said there was a little confusion on the details of O’Reilly’s mention. He didn’t give up season Broncos tickets; they were University of Colorado tickets.
“I’ve donated a scholarship along with having season tickets there for 50 years,” Kriz said. “I decided to give up my tickets and concentrate on veterans.”
Kriz, an Army veteran himself, used the $16,000 he had given to CU for a scholarship and season tickets to instead purchase an all-terrain wheelchair through the Independence Fund, an organization that raises money to give these chairs to wounded veterans. Incidentally, Kriz heard about the Independence Fund from O’Reilly’s show.
“The VA will give them a wheelchair if they need it, but they won’t get them a track chair,” Kriz said. “It allows them to go outside and do hunting and fishing and get into those outdoor things. It just seemed like a good thing to do, so that’s what I did.”
Kriz said his decision to donate to the Independence Fund came about after spending more time with veterans.
“Since I retired, I’ve been doing volunteer work for the vets,” Kriz said. “I grew up during World War II and Korea, and back then, guys went off to war, and when they came back, they just kind of put it out of their mind. And that’s what I did. I got out of the service, and I just got rid of all my uniforms and everything, and I just basically went on with my life. And then when 9/11 came about, and we started sending guys to Iraq and Afghanistan, I got hit with the realization that these guys are coming back — and guys during those other wars that I mentioned, when they were wounded as bad as these guys are, they’d die. And now they’re able to save them, but they’re bringing them back in a broken state. So they need to be able to readjust back into normal life, and this track chair is one way that these guys that are used to the outdoors can get back out there.”
Although the Independence Fund is a national organization, Kriz is doing all he can to make sure the chair he purchased goes to a veteran living in Colorado.
“This fellow called me from the Independence Fund basically just to thank me, and so one of the things I asked him was, ‘Would it be possible for you to give the chair to someone in Colorado that needs one so I can maybe develop some kind of communication with him?’” Kriz said. “He said I needed to go through the vets’ hospital and see if they had somebody that they knew that would qualify for one. And so that’s what I’m doing now.”
Kriz was happy to get a mention on “The O’Reilly Factor,” but he’s happier to know his donation will make a difference in a veteran’s life. He encourages anyone with the means to give to the Independence Fund.
“It doesn’t need to be for a full chair,” he said. “I mean, you can give them $100, and when they get to the point where they can buy a chair, they buy one and they give it to somebody. There are a lot of people that are responding to this.”
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