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Wheels for Wheelchair People: The Stacy Zoern Story

By Shlomo  Maital     

 

   

 Stacy Zoern and “Kengaru”

This story was drawn to my attention by a former student, Maurice.

    Stacy Zoern is an Austin, TX attorney. She has been confined to a wheelchair almost from birth, being unable to walk.   As a teenager, she drove a costly $80,000 van modified for paraplegics.  But she “totaled it”…and hasn’t been able to drive since.

     One day she came across a little car company, based in Hungary, called Kengaru.  It made a clever small electric vehicle fully adapted for paraplegics – easy to get into, out of, etc.  But like many clever small ventures, Kengaru was going out of business. The bank had called its loan and it had run out of money. Bankruptcy loomed.

    How much money do you need?  Stacy asked.  The sum was large.  Rather than complain, gripe, or bitch about how unfair the world is, Stacy chose to act. (My student Maurice says:  Entrepreneurs need to act fast, that way “your fears cannot catch up with you!”.  Right on, Maurice!).  She raised the money.

   Today, in just two years, Kengaru is a thriving company making small electric cars perfectly suited for paraplegics, and enabling them to drive.  Her company has 10 employees.  Kengaru can drive 60 miles on one charge, and has two   two-kw. motors and rear wheel drive.  It has gotten fantastic reception from paraplegics.   The cost is  $25k.  But, that is reduced to $20k. or even to zero, in two ways. First as an electric vehicle it is eligible for many incentive programs run by American states.  Second, it can be part of a vocational rehabilitation program for paraplegics, hence eligible for state aid. 

   Way to go, Stacy!  Find a need (often, something you yourself need and want) and act to meet it.  In a previous blog I showed how Dr. Amit Goffer’s REWALK exoskeleton enabled paraplegics to walk.  Now Stacy Zoern enables them to drive.  This is truly capitalism as it should be. 

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Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
June 2012
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