MUNICH - An automotive industry charity set up to help the recovery of young handicapped people has raised nearly $30,000 through the sale of original artwork donated by leading European car designers, and a further $54,000 at a Munich charity ball and raffle.
More than 150 examples of work by more than 70 designers including such luminaries as Bruno Sacco, Harm Lagaay, Chris Bangle, Hans Muth, Grant Larson, Patrick le Quement, Nuccio Bertone and Guigiaro father and son were made available to the project 'Wheelchair to Bicycle.'
The project was created after BMW motorcycle designer David Robb was critically injured during a road test.
Robb, the director of motorcycle design at BMW AG since 1993, crashed during comparative bike testing in France in November 1995. Like all senior bike division staff, he is an active rider. He spent several days in intensive care in France and four months in hospital in Germany. Through 1996 and 1997 he set about 'learning to walk again.'
During this period he had the full support of BMW colleagues and management, including Rover Chairman Walter Hasselkus, who was then president of the motorcycle division.
A year after the crash, Robb and his designer wife Bibs Hosak-Robb organized a thank-you party. When planning a second party a year later, they wondered if they could sustain the spirit of gratitude and extend it into something longer term.
'In talking to Chris Bangle about what we might be able to offer others,' said Robb, 'he mentioned a project title he had been bouncing around, but that hadn't taken any definite shape - Wheelchair to Bicycle.'
On the second anniversary of Robb's accident, at a party for 200 guests, Robb, his wife and Bangle launched 'Designed HELP,' a forum for ideas which could be used help the handicapped. The first project was to be Bangle's concept of Wheelchair to Bicycle.
'Would it be possible,' people were asked, 'to design a thing or system that accompanies a person during his or her physical rehabilitation, adapting to the patient's needs at each particular point of the restrengthening process, all the way up to the highly mobile stage of self-propelled transportation, a bicycle?'
The project was referred to Aktion Sonnenschein, a Munich-based organization which specializes in programs for handicapped children and the identification of handicaps for early treatment.
'They see in the project Wheel to Bicycle a product which they could bring to life through their expertise, to manufacture and distribute, while offering those in need assistance in getting back on their feet, while offering job opportunities to fellow-handicapped,' Robb said.
Design proposals have arrived from Lotus Engineering and others. Funds were raised by the art sale over the Internet and at a ball in Munich presided over by Hasselkuss.
Top price paid at the ball was $1,866 paid for a sketch by Porsche designer Grant Larson of the Boxster. A set of three Bangle sketches brought $3,733. A BMW 318 donated by the company was also raffled and was later given to the Aktion Sonnenschein school.
Fund-raising continues. Around 100 examples of original artwork are still to be sold. Some 1,500 copies of the catalogue are still available priced at DM100 ($55) from Bibs Design Consultancy, Mendelssohn-str. 31, 81245 Munich.