by: Nerissa Cannon
One of the original Freedom Chair Trailblazers, Nerissa, now works full time with GRIT! Her own journey with chronic illness has made her very passionate about helping other people get the most out of life in spite of a disabling condition. In her new series, IT'S A GRIT LIFE, she shares how the GRIT Freedom Chair helps her engage in her favorite activities and live a life of adventure.
In the "Before" I loved big mountain skiing. When heavy snow hit, I physically itched to be actively out in it.
When I got sick, although my heart still yearned to be a part of that winter wonderland, I was often forced to hibernate due to the limitations of my mobility equipment. When my symptoms allowed, I was still able to get around with the help of my crutches, but that wasn't always an option. The first winter I had my GRIT Freedom Chair I didn't get out as much as I could have. For years I had gotten so used to staying indoors in certain conditions that I overlooked these new opportunities I had thanks to the GRIT Freedom Chair. Unfortunately, that year I didn't take advantage of the winter weather before it warmed up, but when the snow hit again, I was giddy and raced right outside.
I have some dexterity issues that sometimes makes pushing a standard wheelchair challenging. When the tires and rims get wet it becomes very difficult, and sometimes down-right impossible, to move forward. Being chain and lever driven, there are virtually no issues when the Freedom Chair's tires get wet. It just keeps on plowing! You won't win any races if the snow is really thick, but you'll keep moving forward, which in my book is more than a win; especially, when it comes to gutters and curb cuts - where plows tend to pile their work.
My next opportunity to try out the Freedom Chair in the snow came just before Valentine's Day this year. It had been nearly 5 years since I had been able to ski, and my boyfriend bought me a mono-ski lesson in Park City, UT. I had my Freedom Chair ready to get me around the resort and to the base for my skiing adventure. My instructor was intrigued by my "bike" and we shared the same frustration of having to push on wet tires and rims - something I DON'T have to worry about with my Freedom Chair.
I feel like there is so much about winter that I have yet to explore with my GRIT Freedom Chair, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to do so. I'm so grateful I won't have to spend another winter stuck inside, or relying on others to get me around. Now, I can go out into the winter wonderland at my leisure, feel the snow in my face, let my dog run through the drifts, and safely get to the ski slopes . . . and this is only the beginning!