When I lost the use of my legs, I thought I had also lost the wilderness in my life. With a concentrated effort of creativity and flexibility, along with a good dose of humility, I found my way back into camping again. After years of experimentation and adaptation, I finally found a set-up that works for me.
It is 6AM on the quiet edges of Boerne, TX. There’s a line of tail lights snaking into the dusty entrance of the Don Strange Ranch. You can just barely see the A-frame towering in the distance. Whether the bandana around your head is black or red, you are there. Whether this is your first or your fiftieth obstacle course race, you are there. Whether you carry your daughter or your racing prosthetic -- or both -- you are there.
“Backpacking was a big part of life in my twenties. It was also what threw me into an existential crisis when—after I got my first wheelchair—somebody asked, "Do you like backpacking?" How do you answer that question, if you really like something, but you can't actually do it? Ever since I started wheelchair hiking, I have wanted to go wheelchair backpacking. I think I may have finally accomplished that goal.“
“It’s not about doing things in a certain way. It’s about finding YOUR way to do it (your “STYLE”), even if it looks different than how most people do it. Sometimes, how you need to do it even looks entirely different than YOU thought it would. That doesn’t matter. Find your own unique way to accomplish those things most important to you.”
The ground was uneven in places and had a thick covering of grass and stones. The Freedom Chair with its levers gave me the ability to move around and get close up to take photos. Carrying my camera gear, a tripod and cell phone was tricky, but I managed to make it work. My chair was a muddy mess, but I loved every minute of it. I am excited by all the possibilities this opens for me, and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you.
I have to say that folks heads turn daily while I'm riding around in my "Green Machine." It is exciting to tell them about how I got it, and the great opportunities this company is creating for so many people! Thank you GRIT for this opportunity! The following months will be epic, and I am so excited to share them with all!
In the GRIT Freedom Chair, as opposed to my standard daily chair, I am not viewed as an individual struggling to get by. I am viewed as someone driven, able, and powerful. This change in perception will not only influence positive self-image, it can promote social change as well. If an individual with a disability can be seen as strong instead of weak, that opens up opportunities for them. Instead of people assuming what they CAN’T do, they start to think about what they CAN do.