Outdoor-lovers near Madison, Wisconsin are able to trade their wheels for tracks! A non-profit group out of Oregon, Wisconsin is providing all-terrain wheelchairs for free, short-term borrowing. These wheelchairs have a very wide base and rest on tracks - like snowmobiles or tanks - rather than on wheels. As a result, they can go up and down steep hills, through muddy and rocky areas and even shallow puddles and marshy ground. With a quick look at their website, potential users can determine if the wheelchair is available on a specific date and then make a reservation. A volunteer calls with details of how and where to pick up the wheelchair and trailer, and off you go. The website is www.accessabilitywi.org or call 608-886-9388 to learn more.
Our family has had two recent occasions to borrow an all-terrain wheelchair – which we affectionately call “The Tank”. The first was a family vacation to Stockholm, WI where we rented a home with extended family members. The Tank made it possible for my husband, Mike, who normally uses a motorized wheelchair, to spend the week participating in outdoor activities along with everyone else, including going on hiking trails, playing wiffle ball in the backyard, roasting marshmallows by the fire pit, canoeing and exploring area parks.
The second occasion was a trip to the camp where we used to work in Mount Carroll, Illinois – YMCA Camp Benson. This Y camp sits on 100 of the prettiest acres in the world and is the site for week-long resident camp sessions for youth in summer. A river winds through camp at the base of limestone cliffs carved out over centuries, and campers have the opportunity to repel off the cliffs, tube, and kayak on the river, and explore its many natural grottos and caves. In the early days of our marriage, my husband and I lived and worked on this land and explored it regularly. This summer we were returning to drop off and pick up our kids for a week-long stay.
When we dropped off on Sunday I could tell that it was hard for my husband to stay only in the parts of camp that were accessible with his regular wheelchair. So prior to pickup day we checked out “The Tank” again. I am happy to report that we were able to explore the camp together– every corner of it! We spent three hours going everywhere in camp – down to the river, to the cabin areas, to the Grotto. We picked blackberries, checked out the new bridges and high ropes elements out in the woods, and went down to the campfire area where Mike used to tell many a tale!
I know it’s not the same as before. I know Mike would rather be on a mountain bike or kayak or his own two legs exploring Camp Benson. But he did say, upon returning The Tank, “Thank you! There are parts of that place I thought I would never see again.”
We are thankful to the donors and volunteers at Access Ability Wisconsin. Thanks to you, a limit was removed and access was granted. Your Mission: “Outdoors Access for All”…was absolutely achieved.