Rider Spotlight: Maggie Deery

Freedom Chair riders aren't just our customers—they're part of the GRIT family. Today's Rider Spotlight features Maggie Deery. Read on to learn about her adventures!

How freeing it is to take control of your body and become active. When you are disabled, you have limitations, but I know that for me I’ve surpassed so many limitations by challenging myself and doing things I never thought would be possible and going outside the boundaries. It’s such a great feeling, and I want others to have that.

About Maggie

Growing up, Maggie played softball actively, even competing in the Disney World Series. She also loved walking her dog a couple of miles every day. However, when she was 17 years old (in November 2011), she was the passenger in a car that hit a tree head-on at 80 MPH. The driver was killed, and Maggie sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a C5/C6 spinal cord injury.

It took a long time for her brain to recover, but Maggie worked hard and started living partially on her own. One day in February 2015, when she was on her way home, she was hit head-on by a drunk driver. She re-injured her back and sustained another TBI.

I had to recover all over again . . . In between [my accidents] I learned that fitness was going to be an important part of having a disability.

Why did Maggie decide on the GRIT Freedom Chair?

In pursuit of her goal of maintaining an active lifestyle, Maggie started using a handcycle a couple of years ago. However, she found that, for her, there were a couple of challenges with that type of equipment. First was portability. The handcycle was challenging to transport to where she wanted to ride. The Freedom Chair made getting to the trail that much easier.

“I can break it down, unlike the handcycle.

One of the biggest challenges Maggie faced using a handcycle was proper body positioning and transferring into the equipment.

I’m really big about my posture [and] trying to keep my posture good. The handcycle would make me hunch over, but the position in the Freedom Chair is much more comfortable. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough core strength, but it’s been fine . . . I have like no core strength, and it’s okay . . . I feel like it’s a lot easier than the handcycle because I don’t have to go all the way to the ground.

Maggie was kind enough to share a video with us showing how easy it is for her to transfer into her GRIT Freedom Chair now with a little help from her friends.

What activities does Maggie enjoy doing in her GRIT Freedom Chair?

Working with the Kyle Pease Foundation, Maggie began participating in major races. Last year she did the Marine Corps marathon and this year she is using her GRIT Freedom Chair to train for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. Fitness is a big part of Maggie’s life, and she works out with her trainer five days a week.

My trail buddy is my trainer, Henry, who I have grown so close with. The GRIT Freedom chair has given us a plethora of opportunity of new activities to workout with. We can now take those trails that once weren't accessible. I can now take a stroll with Henry and get a workout while doing so. Thank you Freedom chair!

In addition to her fitness and racing goals, Maggie enjoys simply being able to walk her dog again.

When I was injured in 2011, my boxer Maryjane was only seven months old. Prior to my accident, I loved taking her on long walks to clear my head and give us both a good workout. I didn't think that this would be possible being wheelchair bound, until I discovered the GRIT Freedom Chair. I can now take those walks with Maryjane, no matter what the terrain is, and spend the much needed quality time together.

In the future, Maggie is excited to use her Freedom Chair on camping trips with her family. Or, as she calls it: "Glamping!” But in the meantime, she’s using her new equipment to spend more quality time with her family every day.

My Freedom Chair allows me to roll through the grass to my mom's garden. I can now participate and sit with her as she works. Going through the grass is also a great terrain to workout on, as the grass adds more resistance.

Want to share your own Freedom Journey with others? Email community@gogrit.us to get started!