A non-profit providing one of kind wheelchairs for injured veterans and law enforcement that can be operated by eyes, breath, mouth, chin, head, or even a finger. Whatever limitations are present, we accommodate in detail (i.e. sip and puff, chin, head, finger, foot, shoulder, whatever is their ability we will use it to create their mobility and independence at the highest level possible.)
The Wheelchairs for Warriors Board of Directors are not employed nor compensated by Wheelchairs for Warriors. Their volunteer time is spent leading the strategic purpose of the organization, while providing counsel, direction, and fiduciary accountability.
Executive Director; Crystal Laramore
CEO, Laramore Group, LLC
Crystal owns a patriotic newspaper that is 9 years-old with subscribers in 31 states! Crystal’s love for the military, and those who wear a uniform to protect and serve, comes from a family history steeped in the American tradition of serving our country. Laramore served our country in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2006 for the Department of State. She served as a liaison officer to the Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, and received a letter of accommodation from the DOS. It was this experience that sparked the fire in her to one day be part of an organization, which serves veterans.
President; Dr. Deanna Foster, Ph.D.
Clinical Forensic and Organizational Psychologist
Deanna has worked extensively with people who suffered from physical injuries and traumatic, life changing events. She is called on to provide disability evaluations for injured veterans and others, and serves as an expert witness in civil litigation cases involving psychological injury and emotional distress disputes. She has also worked extensively with employers and employees in improving performance and mediating issues in the work environment.
Director of Partnership Development; Heidi Hansing
Heidi comes from a long family tradition of patriotic values and military service. She enlisted in the US Army as a 17-year old freshman in college and served simultaneously in the US Reserves and ROTC until her graduation and commissioning. She graduated with a BA degree in International Affairs, a Specialty in Soviet Politics, and a Minor in Military Science. As an officer, she earned her jump wings at Airborne School before serving the remainder of her active duty service overseas.
Since her separation from military service, Heidi has been a small business owner and investor. She has served as a humanitarian aid director in the south Yucatan, Mexico. Heidi is fiercely politically independent and served on the executive board of a renowned grassroots organization. She is extremely adept in the legislative process and trained many citizen lobbyists. She owned and operated a firearms dealership, specializing in self and home defense for women. For several years, she was a popular hard-hitting radio personality in Texas politics. She was honored to be elected to serve her community on the City Council of League City, Texas.
Now politically retired, Heidi remains active in veteran's advocacy and volunteerism, serving those who have served us. She is, above all, a proud Blue Star Mom.
Secretary; Susan Giacona
Marketing and Advertising Professional
Whether she's performing live at Texas congressional events, or working alongside some of the most prolific songwriters in today’s music industry, country artist and multi-genre songwriter, Susan Giacona, a former marketing communications manager for HP, is proving to be a multi-talented force in the music business.
Harnessing a voice often compared to that of country music superstar, LeAnn Rimes, infused with the sound of Martina McBride, the stories told through Susan’s music focus on deeply personal and real-life themes. She is currently working on her debut EP, entitled Take Me Back, which is scheduled to drop in 2017. The EP is being produced in Nashville by Joe Carrell, who produced for artists such as Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Trace Adkins, and Maddie and Tae.
Susan also works closely with other writers to create songs for artists of multiple genres as well as music appearing on television and in movies. She recently teamed up with hit songwriter, Marty Dodson (Songs Like This by Carrie Underwood, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven by Kenny Chesney) to write Kindness Matters, a song set to appear in the upcoming movie, The Silent Warrior, to releases in 2017. Other songwriters she has co-written with include Clay Mills (Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It by Darius Rucker) and Ryan Griffin (Dibs by Kelsea Ballerini), Grammy nominee Shelly Peiken, hit Songwriters Jason Duke, Chuck Jones, Marti Dodson (lead singer of Saving Jane), and Jennifer Hanson.
Artists/Bands most recently cutting Susan’s songs are The Darrin Morris Band (country), Billy Lord (country rock), Ella Knox (pop), and Canadian artist, Chris Ising (country). In 2017 Susan’s music will also be used in a kids TV show, The Grimps, and a Houston-based talk show, “A Different Point of View”. Susan is also working with a writing team on music for a new reality TV show, "Play It Forward,"as well projects for Universal Music. Susan recently began writing music for a western, in which she has a small speaking role, and will be performing the "opening credits" song.
When she isn’t creating new music, or doing voice-over projects, Susan can be found spending time with her husband and three sons. She donates her time serving on the Board of Directors of Wheelchairs for Warriors. She is an avid traveler, having spent time in Italy, France, and many other European countries.
Board Member; Joe Amato
U.S. Navy, Retired
Joe comes to Wheelchairs For Warriors, as a company owner with many years of Board experience. More importantly, Joe understands first hand the needs and hopes of our Veterans to return to civilian life. Joe was born January 10, 1946 in Galveston, Texas. He grew up in Texas City, Texas; graduated from Texas City High School in 1964.
Joe was in the Navy from 1965-1969, and served two tours in Viet Nam (1967 & 1968) flying A-6 Intruders for Attack Squadron 85. After his duty, he graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business from Sam Houston State University.
Joe founded Amato Linehandlers, Inc. in 1980, a ship mooring and launch service in Texas City, TX. He retired as President in 2010. Joe has served on multiple boards and organization throughout his career. Joe continues to server on several boards, such as Sam Houston State and the Fraternity Alumni Board.
Joe has been married to his wife Liz for 39 years, they have two children, Ashley and Jonathon, and six grand-children.
Board Member; James Napolitano
President, Universal Safety & Security Solutions LLC; Former United States Secret Service Agent. Served 4 Presidents; Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush.
Jim Napolitano was born in 1956 to Mary and Severin, a nurse and a New York City Police Officer and US Army Korean War Veteran. They taught him about service to others, building a strong work ethic and maintaining one’s integrity no matter the circumstances presented. These core disciplines were instrumental throughout his career and continue to guide him today.
Jim moved to Texas in 1977 at the age of 20 to attend the University of Houston with just $300 to his name. He worked full time as a Roustabout in the oil field and as a bartender while attending classes as a full-time student before earning his Mechanical Engineering Technology Degree in 1979.
After graduating from U of H, Jim worked in the oil and gas industry as a Mechanical Engineer. While attending the Law Enforcement Training Academy, Jim also worked pro bono as Reserve Deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) in 1983, which led to a full-time position at MCSO. He worked in the Jail, Detective Division, and on Patrol for District 1 & 2. He was promoted to Sergeant in one and a half years.
In 1986, Jim was hired as a Special Agent by the United States Secret Service, one of the most selective agencies in the world with only 2000 agents worldwide. During the 1988 Presidential Campaign, he worked as a Shift Agent for Reverend Jessie Jackson’s Protection Detail while still maintaining his investigative cases and other protection assignments
Jim was hand-selected to work on the Super Note Task Force headed up by the CIA alongside the DEA to travel abroad to uncover the counterfeit plant of US currency in the Middle East and the entities behind distributing the counterfeit which involved terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Al Qaida and Hamas. He developed several Classified Sources overseas to find the origin of the Super Note, the most prolific counterfeit note ever produced.
Upon returning from the Middle East, Jim was assigned as Shift Agent to the Former President George H.W. Bush and Former First Lady Barbara Bush, where he served two years as an Advance Agent, a Shift Leader and Rescue Swimmer for the Former First Family.
His next assignment was to the Presidential Protective Division for President Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C. where he was chosen to attend selection and training for the elite Counter Assault Team (CAT). Jim served on CAT for three and a half years under the Clinton Administration before transferring to the PPD Working Shift as a Shift Agent.
With the election of President George W. Bush, the Secret Service selected Jim to serve as Resident Agent in Charge to open and operate a Residential Office in Waco, Texas with the inclusion of President Bush’s Western White House in Crawford, Texas from 2001-2004. His responsibilities included creating a security plan for the ranch, arrivals, departures, transportation and visits to the ranch by dignitaries including world leaders while overseeing an office conducting investigations into counterfeit, fraud and forgery against the US Government and the citizens of Central Texas. Jim developed working relationships with local and state law enforcement agencies to assist on investigations and Presidential visits and was also responsible for hundreds of personnel during presidential visits to include US Secret Service, Administrative Staff, Military Assets, Media and other governmental entities.
Jim came back to the Houston Field Office to finish his career with the Secret Service from 2004-2008. He was entrusted with special assignments such as the relocation of 15 billion dollars from the old Federal Reserve Bank to the new location in one night, as well as responsible for the relocation of the Secret Service Field Office into the Federal Reserve Bank. He was assigned to the Fraud Squad, worked on Advances for Protectees, and worked on investigations, most notably, arresting and securing a conviction of “Sandman”, a monster who was responsible for the abduction of children to be used in pornographic films and snuff films. Jim started a satellite office for the Secret Service in Bryan/College Station through the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office (BSCO) to assist local law enforcement with counterfeit cases and assisted in the arrest and conviction of a leader with the Arian Brotherhood responsible for major crimes in the B/CS area. While on election night with Candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin, Jim received and accepted an offer to work again with Colonel Bernard McCabe (Ret.) in the private sector serving as the US & European Security Manager for Marathon Oil. Jim retired from the US Secret Service on 31 December 2008 after more than 22 years of service to his country.
As Security Manager for Marathon Oil, Jim was an active member of the Energy Security Council and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Jim assisted with all aspects of corporate security, most notably, Jim was instrumental in the evacuation of Marathon personnel from Libya during the Arab Spring. Jim set up Marathon physical security interests in Iraq to include emergency evacuation routes out of the country and provided security plans for Marathon interests in Equatorial Guinea.
While working for Marathon, Jim and his wife, Angela, started a private security firm, Universal Safety & Security Solutions, to provide security consulting, training, investigations and personal protection to corporations, churches and private individuals. In order to expand the business, Jim left Marathon and soon added Col. McCabe to the firm. Jim is a subject matter expert and has conducted many radio and television interviews and seminars regarding Active Shooter Situations, Personal Protection, Facility Security and Traveling Abroad. He holds licenses by the Department of Public Safety as a Concealed Handgun License Instructor, Private Security Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Personal Protection Officer, Private Investigator, and Private Security Manager.
Jim currently serves the citizens of Montgomery as their Police Chief after being contacted by the City of Montgomery in June 2013 to consider the position of Interim Police Chief, a role he wholeheartedly accepted in order to give back his experience and knowledge to the community. He was hired full-time as Chief of Police in January 2014 and holds a Master Peace Officer Certificate from Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Public Information Officer Certificate from the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), Texas Police Chief Leadership Series and Chief Development Series Certificates from LEMIT.
Jim Napolitano is married and has five children. He and his wife, Angela, are actively involved in the community and professional associations. They are members of and support the many missions of the Woodlands Church as well as strong supporters of various charities supporting our Veterans. Jim is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Texas Association of Police Chiefs, International Association of Chiefs of Police, International American Society for Industrial Security, Texas Association of Licensed Investigators, Greater Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce, The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, and The Greater Houston Partnership.
Complex Rehab Seating Specialist; Paul Morgan
In February 2007, Paul lived in South Carolina and was VP of a large tech company. His diabetic father, veteran of the Army, helicopter pilot during the Korean War, owned an outdoor store and was an avid outdoorsman. One day he trimmed one of his toenails back too far and infection ensued. Due to improper diagnosis and treatment, by May 2007 his father had gangrene in both feet which led to a double amputee at the age of 70.
Six months later, after much therapy, Mr. Morgan could walk using a walker, but needed independent mobility to attend church, go to the grocery or visit computer shows (his hobby), so they turned to the regional VA Hospital for help.in providing a proper-fitting power wheelchair.
THREE YEARS LATER, January 2011, Mr. Morgan finally got the power chair HE WAS FITTED FOR IN 2008!
Through the pain they found laughter. Though Mr. Morgan had no feet, his feet would itch. Paul bought him foot cream for Christmas as a joke, which brought them many laughs.
But the laughter didn’t last long. February 14, 2011 he was taken to the doctor assuming a kidney stone. Instead, they discovered the nerve medication the VA prescribed destroyed his kidneys and he was in complete renal failure. He made the painful decision to not take dialysis. The family took him home and he passed away four days later.
Paul called the VA to request pickup of his father's new wheelchair that took 3 years to receive, to which they said, “We don’t pick up used equipment.” Through a local charity, Paul found a woman who needed a chair and delivered it to her. This woman was beyond surprised and grateful.
This experience guided Paul's career path, directing him to use his engineering expertise to help those not getting what they need, when they need it.
Today Paul's life has come full circle. He gets to help veterans and first responders. This is truly his calling and he is forever grateful to give back to men and women like his father who unselfishly served their country.
Paul's expertise designing huge network infrastructures and high-end complex rehab equipment is being used to fulfill his calling in engineering wheelchairs for warriors.
Honorary Board Member; Dan Pastorini
Dante Anthony "Dan" Pastorini is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He is also a winning NHRA Top Fuel Dragster driver.
Dan Pastorini Charity is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to assist in raising funds for and awareness of several charities close to Dan’s heart. During its short-lived existence, Dan Pastorini Charity has benefited several organizations but has focused their attention on Be An Angel.
“Growing up in California, my family instilled a sense of responsibility in me,” Pastorini says. “But, I’m very proud to have become a true, naturalized Texan after spending all of my adult life in Houston and learning it is a ‘Texas Thing’ to give back and help people.”
After being introduced to Be An Angel, a non-profit organization that enhances the quality of life for profoundly deaf and multi-handicapped kids, Pastorini named the foundation as the beneficiary of their annual Dan Pastorini Celebrity Charity Golf Invitational.
“Without the support from our friends, we would not be able to support the causes we do today,” Pastorini notes. “It’s heartwarming to see how everyone steps up to support such wonderful organizations and we are excited to continue that ‘Texas Thing’.”