Freedom Chair riders aren't just our customers—they're part of the GRIT family. Today's Rider Spotlight features Noel Meyer! Read on to learn about her adventures.
“It did exactly what I wanted it to! The big difference is my ability to get around the urban areas without keeling over. I’m getting into downtown Chicago more than I used to.”
Noel was born with congenital hip dysplasia. When she was born, her feet were facing backward, and realigning them required a large number of surgeries and two years in a body cast.
“Everything is double-jointed. It bends in ways it’s not supposed to. I am capable of walking, it’s just ridiculously hard. Standing is ridiculously hard . . .
“I hit a point last year where I’d been stuck inside constantly for a couple of months—and I’d get out when my boyfriend would take me out—but I didn’t have the ability to get myself out because I didn’t drive and I wasn’t up to walking.”
Why did Noel decide on the GRIT Freedom Chair?
Noel lives in the suburbs of Chicago. She can’t drive more than a half an hour every couple of days, so she uses the trains to get into Chicago, but then needs a reliable piece of mobility equipment to get herself around the city.
To get some additional funding for her GRIT Freedom Chair, Noel applied to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) grant program. She was concerned she may not be awarded a grant because she doesn’t consider herself an “athlete.” But she learned that CAF is all about encouraging people of all abilities to get active.
“[If you are] not an athlete, find someone who is professional who can speak for you and say, ‘Yes they are going to get out and use this’ . . . my personal trainer was more than happy to.
“I was surprised I was able to get the grant because I am not an athlete. I don’t do sports at all. They give grants to people who just want to actively engage with their world.”
What activities does Noel enjoy doing in her GRIT Freedom Chair?
Noel took her Freedom Chair with her on a trip to historic Savannah, GA.
“Getting down to the river walk, we found a little switchback road that had stones the size of a guy’s fist. I love the way it goes on the cobblestones!“
Noel also enjoys making her mobility equipment her art, and has plans to “steampunk” her GRIT Freedom Chair like she did to her original wheelchair.
“Wheelchairs for me have always been this massive reminder for me of hospitals and my inability to do things my way. So making it my art, is taking ownership of it; that’s mine.”
However, even just getting out around her neighborhood can be an adventure for Noel.
“There is a park that is three to four blocks from me. I get out two to four times a week in my chair now, depending on what the weather is. I go down to the park and play Pokémon. It encourages me to get my butt into my chair and outside.“
What is Noel’s favorite thing about the GRIT Freedom Chair?
Noel loves that the Freedom Chair’s design allows it to be easily modified to fit her unique body.
“My biggest concern was that it wouldn’t fit me physically . . . I’m small—I’m 4’9”—and I need a child-sized wheelchair. At the point at which I figured out how to make it physically work, everything else was easy. The modifications I needed to make to this work for me are significantly smaller than what I had to do to my regular wheelchair.”