Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grand Rapids Man Builds Ski "Wheelchair"

ski chair for handicapped
Tom Hernon uses his ski chair
follow link to see the video-
link would not embed properly
from a news release of WZZM TV 13, "Grand Rapids man builds snow wheelchair," Dec 9, 2008

Tom Hernon of Grand Rapids broke his back racing dirt bikes 11 years ago, leaving him paralyzed. But he doesn't let winter slow him down.

He's invented a chair, and started a company to manufacture it- Back 2 Sports. After his injury he quickly realized that the sort of equipment that was available to help paralyzed people participate in sports was not the best. So he began building his own adaptable wheelchairs.

He started doing the luge at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. But he had trouble getting from the car to the lodge. "People would have to just drag me. It got to be pretty tough," Tom said. So he converted a wheelchair so it could have skis instead of wheels.

He added, "One of the biggest things I miss from being paralyzed, I can't go walk through the woods. I grew up in the woods and I love going and hiking and fishing and all that kind of stuff. This can get you out there. You can go ice fishing."

Hernon and his son have designed a chair that can be converted for tennis, bicycling and more. That makes it more affordable than the typical adaptive wheelchair. Usually each separate type of chair can cost several thousand dollars. He's currently building the chairs on a small scale but he'd like to find a manufacturer that can get the cost down below $1000. That way a person could afford a chair that would allow them to participate in several different activities.

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