Freedom Chair riders aren't just our customers - they're part of the GRIT family. Today's Rider Spotlight features Crys Davis. Read on to learn about her adventures!
"It’s liberating and I’m getting to do all this stuff that, quite frankly, I never thought I would never be able to do again . . . It has surpassed all of my hopes and expectations in terms of getting around on rougher terrain and being able to hike again and being able to get back out in the field."
Crys is one busy woman who has not let her diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome slow her down at all. She is a biology professor in her day job, but is also a graduate student working on a PHD in Research Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics, and also a Masters Degree in Public Health. Her graduate work leads her to doing research in cemeteries. Most of her research has focused on preventing grave damage and grave disruptions in cemeteries that have been flooded.
"The terrain in cemeteries is really uncertain. Particularly in Oklahoma . . . and so in some cases you go out, and it might be really super muddy in some places; in some places it’s really super dry, and the terrain is really tough and rocky. In this particular cemetery one of the biggest places that it helped was getting over things like big tree roots. As I was moving between rows of headstones, there’s no way I would have been able to do it in my daily chair."
Why did Crys decide on the Freedom Chair?
After discovering the Freedom Chair at an Adaptive Sports Expo, Crys, a self-described skeptic, spent 18 months with a pros and cons list trying to decide if the Freedom Chair was the right choice for her. The customer service she received prior to purchasing helped her decide to take the plunge.
"I called my husband and said, 'Dang it! Their customer service is great! I really kind of wanted that to be horrible so I could justify not doing it.'"
Crys still remained wary, though. She explains:
"This is cool, but there’s no way it could be that cool, and I was wrong."
Now, in addition to her 2 jobs, grad school work, and disaster response, Cry's future goals with her Freedom Chair include doing a triathlon!
What activities does Crys enjoy doing in the Freedom Chair?
In addition to her field work and hiking, as half owner in a small artisan candle company, Crys recently attended a 3-day craft fair with her Freedom Chair.
"Last year I was out there, and we probably had 3 or 4 inches of just mud; and I was out there in my Quickie, and I couldn’t get around. I was just stuck. I was kind of in our little booth space and just couldn’t move; and any time I needed to do something like go to the bathroom, I had to have somebody help me which I hate. In the Freedom Chair it was soggy and it was nasty and it was a little tough going in some places, but it was very maneuverable, and it was very doable."
What is Crys's favorite thing about the Freedom Chair?
Crys’s most poignant experience with the Freedom Chair has been that instead of staring at HER, members of the public were intrigued by her EQUIPMENT:
“Suddenly people aren’t seeing me they’re seeing my chair. Which sounds completely goofy, but they’re looking at me and they’re not seeing ‘oh the poor disabled woman.’ They’re seeing a really interesting and intriguing piece of equipment.
“It was something that I think for me it sticks out the most because it’s a thing I didn’t expect . . . [The Freedom Chair] has surpassed all of my hopes and expectations in terms of getting around on rougher terrain . . . but I expected all that. So even though it exceeded all those expectations (which don’t get me wrong is very cool), it’s not the thing that stands out the most.”
Crys also appreciates being able to get maintenance and repairs done at local bike shops.
“Being able to get the minor things locally if something breaks is really fantastic. I went in to this bike shop for the first time, and I got swarmed by a bunch of bike enthusiasts who just thought that this contraption was the coolest thing that they had ever seen, ever . . . They asked if they could mess with it and take it around and they’ve actually kind of made a study out of ways to, help me in terms of any equipment that I need. They were just so enthused because to them it was just like working on a funny looking bicycle.”