Monday, June 30, 2014


Fifty years ago, George Ray and some of the residents of Guadalajara began to toy with the idea of a Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) chapter in Mexico. Many of the Alliance for Compassion boys (see article below) had been living in Guadalajara for a number of years, while still maintaining membership in their chapters back home. California PVA for the Long Beach crowd and Vaughn Chapter PVA for the boys from Chicago, with a sprinkling of PVAers from other chapters.   A PVA chapter in Guadalajara would serve to unite all who wished to participate.  In addition to helping the kids at the orphanage, it would be helpful to have a functioning veterans' service organization in Guadalajara to better serve those specifically disabled with spinal cord injuries who chose to visit or make Mexico their new home.  It would also add clout and purpose to the ragtag group of Gringo neighbors from the North who some locals still viewed as nothing but a bunch of drunks and womanizers

On April 21,1964, a group of 18 paraplegic and quadriplegic veterans met at the home of Mexico Chapter "founder" George Ray in Chapalita, a suburb of Guadalajara, to form the nucleus of Mexico Chapter of the PVA.

At the initial meeting, a slate of officers was elected:  The following officers were elected until the end of the fiscal year ending June 30. President, William M. Bailey, Vice-President, Charles J. Miller, Secretary-Treasurer, George Ray, Board of Directors appointees Charles J. Ceska, Lee Schlyer, Stanley Prucnal, and Donald Evans.

The new group adopted the by-laws suggested in the booklet, "How to Run a PVA Chapter," and had applied for affiliation with the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

All eighteen were very enthusiastic about the prospect and all had pledged membership as soon as they could get a chapter.

The pledged members were:  Bill Bailey, Charles Joe" Miller, Robert Krekeler, George E
Ray, Edward G. Lucier, Donald Evans, Carroll Stodgel, Lee Schyer, John P.Nichol, Stanley Prucnal, Charles Ceska, Bob Barret, Bob Beske, Chuck Derevjanik, Robert Enge, Ken Perry, George Small, Marion Fuget and Bob Powell.

On June 17, 1964, the Mexico Chapter, Paralyzed Veterans of America became a reality and a new era was born. George Ray's vision had again brought results, much as his foresight and efforts had in enabling so many disabled individuals to realize a new life South of the Border.

(Alliance for Compassion members Marion Fuget and George Small, surrounded by orphans from Jalisco's state run orphanage, Hospicio Cabañas. Circa 1963)

Paraplegia News - June 1964

Wheelers Throw King-Size Party for Orphans
By John Reese


Those guys are at it again.

The same incorrigible bunch of American quadriplegics and paraplegics who gave the big Christmas party at the state orphanage took 300 of the kids for an all-day picnic and swim at one of the newest and most beautiful resorts here, Los Camachos, in the spectacular setting of the wild Barrancas.

This was an even more ambitious project than the Christmas posada. It meant transporting everyone but the nursery babies 15 miles out into the country, feeding them all day, providing lifeguard protection in an acre of clear mountain water in a blue-tile pool, and getting them all back, exhausted but happy and safe, that night.

3,200 Pesos Raised

The paraplegics “Alliance for Compassion,” as they now call it here, raised 3,200 pesos in one of the quietest fund drives in money-raising history.

What baffles everyone in the big American colony here is that nobody seems to want any credit, nobody wants his name in the local papers, nobody even wants to admit he was a part of it. Nevertheless, although only 18 contributors showed up to see their money at work, it is known that “around 30 or 40” donors contributed.

The picnic was unprecedented in the 177-year-old history of the Hospicio Cabanas, the state orphanage. The kids drank 900 bottles of soft drinks and ate three-quarters of a ton of food. They kept the pool filled in relays, some of them wearing swim-suits paid for out of the paraplegics money.

Record in Foreign Aid

When you figure that the cost per kid was only about 10 pesos - that’s 80 cents U.S. - you're getting pretty close to a new economy record in Foreign Aid. It couldn't be done, but they did it.

The attention this “impossible” act of charity drew makes the American paraplegics one of the most influential groups in the big American colony here. From now on, their support is going to count heavily.

After the success of the Christmas party, it was relatively easy to line up help for this. The American School and the Municipal Police contributed the buses. State and Highway police detailed men to help handle the kids. A big brewery brought in folding tables and chairs, set them up, and hauled them away afterwards.

From page 150: QUADALAJARA --- The Utopia That Once Was

2006 Distinguished Book Award - FIVE STAR Rating
Military Writers Society of America (MWSA)
Presented at San Diego Salute to the Military, July 2006

2007 Honorable Mention Award from the Hollywood Book Festival, "Celebrating books worthy of greater attention from the film and TV industries"