Providing Medical Supplies to US Troops for Iraqi Civilians
Inspired by a CNN story "After bomb blast, wife is left to be her husband's legs (http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/13/iraq.amputee/index.html) whereupon a woman was carrying her husband, Dupalo sought to send a few wheelchairs to the war zone to assist those caught up in warfare. Something about seeing a woman carry a man without legs moved him to act. And when a few days later, a national drug store chain then began liquidating their stores' inventories in the local area, he formed a small team to watch the stores as they were in the last days of operation and meanwhile negotiated with other closing store locations to purchase medical goods before particular items, especially wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers were sold.
The small core team of five was assisted in part when Dupalo approached a student organization ONE to assist which they did by also purchasing a few hundred dollars of heavily discounted items. Next, he searched the Internet to find further support and found it when he located Tom Deierlein and the Tom Deierlein Foundation at www.TDFoundation.org. Tom's story can be read at www.usma.edu/publicaffairs/directorscorner/07april26–parade.htm, and elsewhere, where it covers how he was wounded in Iraq and returned to the US and while undergoing a lengthy rehabilitation process, began a charity to help those in need.
Dupalo contacted Tom, both former military officers, and quickly established a trusting relationship. Tom's foundation paid for shipping over what had grown to approximately $20,000 worth of medical supplies using a mere $2,000 and negotiating deep discounts. One quirky irony was that a wheelchair discounted from $200 to $20 with a 90% discount costs $23.43 to send via APO . The shipping costs paid by Tom's Foundation amounted to approximately $1,500.
What Dupalo originally had hoped to accomplish, sending over a few wheelchairs, grew directly in proportion to the dedication as a team over a few months, far exceeding his original goal.
What follows is an e–mail from the US Army Sergeant John Miller (the same name as the elementary school Dupalo attended) that coordinated the distribution efforts in Iraq