Rider Spotlight: Ilan Goodman

"Last Friday I took my three oldest children hiking. We went along an old forest trail just outside the city. We played in the ruins of a medieval building, cut though farm country where we picked sheaves of wheat, watched a hawk catch a rabbit, and picked fresh almonds from a tree along the way. It was all in all a lovely afternoon and one I owe in large part to you and your amazing chair. But before I thank you, I feel that I should explain just what this trip meant to myself and everyone involved.

When I was a child, I loved hiking. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, it was simply a part of life. We used to go out whenever we had the chance. We didn't have much money, but there was always a new trail to explore. Most of my summers in fact were spent out and about. My father was not a healthy man and he had a number of problems to struggle with. The only real happy memories I have of him were when we went out into the forest. That was the only time I ever saw him really at peace.

So of course, I always assumed that when I had kids of my own I’d naturally share my love of the outdoors with them. But God has other plans. Around the time my first child was born, I was diagnosed with progressive cerebellar ataxia, a serious neurological condition that, among other things, affected my ability to walk. By the time my kids were old enough to go out, I was using a cane and being told it would not be long until I was chair bound. I managed to take my kids on a single hike, simply so that they could have at least one good memory. For years they used to talk about it longingly. We all assumed that would be it as far as me and nature were concerned.

Your chair changed all that. We went out. That may sound like nothing more than a simple family outing but it was something we thought we’d never be able to do. I was able to expose my children to the wonder of the outdoors, to carry on our family tradition.  I was able to give them meaningful childhood memories.  The hardest part of being sick isn’t what you can no longer do for yourself, it’s what you can’t do for other people. I had to live with the guilt that I’d never be able to give my children the things they needed. But now, thanks to you, I can be the kind of a parent that I always wanted to be. I have the ability to give my kids the childhood they deserve, and to feel like a real active father again. 

We’ve already planned the next few hikes. The kids have told all their friends about their adventures. Even my wife is thrilled that I can finally get out of the house and do things like a real person again. Truth be told, it’s been hard on her to have to take over the duties of two parents, and I’ve felt plenty guilty about having to put that on her. When word of this chair got around, I became a local celebrity. I’ve already done some hikes with people who happened to hear about the chair. I’ve made new friends, joined a hiking club and been more active than I have been in years. I know you designed your chair to help people in developing countries and I’m sure my own situation isn’t as dire as many you’ve encountered. But you should know that what you created resulted in one parent having the chance to be a good father again. And to me, that means a lot.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve done nothing short of given me my life back. You’ll never know how much it really means to me but you should at least know what you’ve accomplished." - Ilan Goodman

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The GRIT Freedom Chair is the most versatile chair on the market, designed from the ground up to handle any terrain. From trails to grass to snow, the Freedom Chair is built for you to push yourself. Born out of research at MIT, the Freedom Chair's patented easy-push levers reduce shoulder strain and put you in control of your mobility. Ready to hit the trails? Learn more about the GRIT Freedom Chair at www.gogrit.us