Veteran Finds Renewed Independence (Vol. 5, Issue 2)

The sidebar of the newsletter begins with a photo of Shane in a Marine Corps dress uniform, with the caption, "Staff Sergeant Shane Chadwell was paralyzed after 20 years in the Marine Corps." Underneath is another photo of Shane's son, wife, daughter--who is wearing a graduation cap and gown and holding flowers--and Shane with the caption, "Thanks to generous donors like you, Shane can support his family with a new career at PepsiCo. A blue bar, with green and white lettering, states, "Pepsi ACT's Success." Next to a figure of shaking hands is the text, "60 individuals with disabilities have been hired." Next to a figure of a circular arrow with a star in the middle is the text, "13 percent higher retention rate than average."


During his 20 years in the Marine Corps, Staff Sergeant Shane Chadwell served as an aircraft electrician until the day he fell off an F-18 aircraft, underwent disk surgery, and awoke paralyzed from the chest down.

In an instant, Shane had become one of more than 56 million Americans living with a disability. 

Over the course of 18 months and 17 additional surgeries, he graduated from a wheelchair, to a walker, to crutches, to a cane, and finally, to his own two feet. Once he could walk again, it was time to plan his future. Despite regaining mobility, however, Shane still struggled with severe pain and weakness.

“I didn’t know how I was going to provide for my family and keep a roof over our heads,” he told me. “I was retired from the military and had to find a way to start over. I wanted more than a job. I wanted a career.”

With the support of donors like you, Kessler Foundation helps people like Shane find employment, dignity, and self-reliance.

Shane’s opportunity came through Pepsi ACT—an initiative that promotes hiring of people with disabilities at PepsiCo—made possible by a grant from Kessler Foundation to the nonprofit Ability Beyond.

Today, Shane is an operations technician who services Pepsi fountain machines. “Working in quality control is a big responsibility,” Shane noted. “It’s great to be a part of the team at PepsiCo. For me, this isn’t just a job; this is my career.”

Pepsi ACT’s success is evident from the high productivity at the company’s Las Vegas Certified Center. Manager Julio Padilla supervises the Center’s 43 employees, half of whom have disabilities.

“They are incredible workers—willing and eager to learn, and focused on productivity and meeting team goals,” says Julio. “It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t hiring people with disabilities, I was hiring the best people for the job.”

Like their able-bodied counterparts, workers with disabilities are dedicated and productive assets to their company. They contribute to the company’s goals, while being able to better care for their families.

Stories like this make all of us at Kessler Foundation proud of the work we do. Thank you for your role in returning people like Shane to their homes, their communities and the workplace. We could never achieve so much were it not for kind friends like you.

With gratitude and best wishes,

signature for Michele

Michele Pignatello
Chief Development Officer

P.S. Join us on September 27, 2015, for Kessler Foundation's Stroll 'N Roll at Verona Park, Verona, NJ, from 10 am to 1 pm. For more information and to register, visit