After attending the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, South Kingstown, R.I.-based veteran Steve D’Amico emerged with a bright idea.
D’Amico, a Rhode Island Air National Guard Technical Sgt., wants to help other injured veterans remain active through his new business, Broken Gear. He tells the Associated Press that the company “was founded on the principle of disabled athletes empowering themselves to get back into sports, whether they’re disabled veterans or disabled civilians.”
So far, Broken Gear is selling a variety of t-shirts with messages to inspire disabled athletes and their supporters, such as, “I am broken and I run,” and “I am broken and I ride.” D’Amico’s company also sells camouflaged gear bags made from uniforms of servicemen and women and specially designed to be easy to use by people who have prosthetic hands or suffer from other injuries.
As D’Amico sells these items, he has plans to use the profits to support disabled athletes, “buying equipment and getting vets involved in different activities,” D’Amico says. “For example if a veteran wanted to ride a bike, and didn’t have the funds or the ability, we can sponsor him, get him a bike, get him the Broken Gear jersey and pay for his admission.”
His mission just received a big boost: Work Vessels for Veterans presented D’Amico with a Dodge Durango (which was once used to transport Boy Scouts to camping trips) that he envisions using to take veterans and their sporting gear wherever they need to go.
“I feel so honored. To me, when I see this vehicle, this is what a Broken Gear vehicle would be. It’s rugged. It’s tough. It’s kind of beat up a little bit, but that’s what we’re looking for. You’ve been through the ringer, but that’s OK, you just press on,” D’Amico says.