Freedom Chair riders aren't just our customers - they're part of the GRIT family. We like to stay in touch, and there's nothing we love more than seeing pictures and hearing stories about their Freedom Chair experiences.
Today's Rider Spotlight features Nico Serra, our first Pay-it-Forward Grant recipient! Six years ago, Portland resident Nico Serra was struck by a car and dragged while riding his bicycle. With a combination of inadequate medical care and a genetic disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome-- which affects tissues and joints-- his body hasn’t been able to fully recover.
It’s been a long struggle. Serra, now 35, has undergone three shoulder surgeries and a hip surgery. He uses a permanent splint on his hand and wrist and suffers from constant pain in his neck and back. In addition, due to his Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the arches are falling in his feet making it difficult, sometimes impossible, to walk.
Previously, Serra primarily used a power chair to get around. Before his accident, the self-proclaimed “outdoor junkie” would hike up to 15 miles per day as a wilderness guide for students who suffer from addictions. Together, they would rock climb, mountain bike or go white water rafting as part of their therapy. In more recent years, Serra has been confined to his home, unable to enjoy the freedom of being outside.
Serra is an advocate in the Portland community who raises awareness for those with disabilities to create more accessible buildings. He says:
“The GRIT Freedom Chair will allow me to go to the park down the street, a place that was previously not accessible to me. The chair really embodies the idea that everyone should have access to the outdoors.”
UPDATE: JUNE 2017
Nico continues to enjoy his Freedom Chair and show his GRIT! He even used it at Portland's Trans Pride March in early June.