Freedom Chair riders aren't just our customers - they're part of the GRIT family. Today's Rider Spotlight features Kenny Hersh! Read on to learn about his adventures!
"The [Freedom] chair has really enabled me to remain part of the adventures."
Kenny lives with a rare neurological disease called Primary Lateral Sclerosis.
"It’s a motor neuron disease in the same family as ALS, but thankfully not that. There are only around 2,000 with it in the USA. It is a very slowly progressive disease. I’ve had it around 15 years or so. I was a runner pre-neuro world, and I love to still work out at the gym. I use a walker to get around, and sometimes trekking poles."
Before PLS, Kenny would run year-round, even in the Winter, and he also enjoyed downhill skiing. He began missing many of the things he used to do.
"I usually use a walker to get around safely, but I found that I was missing out on walks with my wife, kids, grand kids, and friends. Going on a hike in the woods was no longer feasible. Walking around cities and strolling on bike paths were also difficult if not impossible activities to achieve."
Why did Kenny decide on the GRIT Freedom Chair?
"I saw it as a way to get outside more often with my wife and family, and friends, and to do hikes, walks, around Providence etc."
Before purchasing, Kenny visited GRIT's headquarters in Boston, MA to take a private demo ride.
"It made ALL the difference in the world. We then even rented one for a weekend to be sure, and we took the plunge and bought it."
Kenny does admit that it may take a bit to get used to the Freedom Chair, but persistance pays off!
"My first time in the chair was a bit like riding a new bike for the first time. There is a learning curve. However, once you practice a bit and watch videos that the GRIT team and users of the chair have posted, it is fun and easy to ride."
What activities does Kenny enjoy doing with the GRIT Freedom Chair?
Besides just getting exercise rolling around town, Kenny has enjoyed taking his Freedom Chair on multiple vacations. Recently, he and his wife went on their first international trip with some friends. They visited Costa Rica and the Freedom Chair flew with them.
"The airport experience was better than we thought. We had a private transport there so getting it from one place to another was not an issue. I had to bring a walker as well so it was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t use [the Freedom Chair] as much as I had hoped for a variety of reasons, but I will say that to go on the beach of the Pacific ocean at sun down made it all worth it . . . We travel quite a bit so not sure where we will be going next."
Kenny also spent some time around Cape Cod.
"We did a family vacation on Cape Cod with our three kids, their 9 kids, and a few nieces and nephews. We went on a hike in the White Cedar Swamp walk in the Marconi Station National Park area. This was the hardest trail I have attempted and, except for some railroad tie steps that my sons and son-in-law gave me an assist, I was able to get through it without difficulty. We like to be 'memory makers' for our kids and grand kids and being able to do this with them rather than sitting back at the house was fabulous. My grand kids argue as to which one will get to sit on my lap as I go on it. How great is that? On the same vacation, we spent many hours walking around Provincetown as well, which was a treat."
Travelling is not the only thing Kenny has planned for his GRIT Freedom Chair.
"My goal for September is to participate in a 5K race . . . It will be an emotional thing if I can pull it off."
What is Kenny's favorite thing about the GRIT Freedom Chair?
Kenny has been incredibly grateful for the level of customer support he's received.
"The GRIT team is remarkable. They are a very small group of dedicated people who truly believe in their mission to make the impossible possible for those of us who have some challenges. They are eager for feedback from users and have made many changes to the chair from suggestions by users. I have made some comments to them which they are always happy to receive. One of the staff said to me that it is just the engineering thing to always try to improve the mousetrap. I have even read . . . of modifications they did for one person who needed them due to his situation. That sense of caring and openness to suggestions is not common in today’s world . . . They are a dedicated team that is running a business, but hasn’t lost sight of the fact that their products could improve the lives of their customers."