LOXLEY, Alabama (WALA) - Chance Blaker, a Foley man, has designed a beach friendlywheelchair to extend freedom to those who need them. The oil spillhas halted his business though, because tourist are cancellingvacations.
The phrase freedom isn't free rings loud and clear forBlaker.
"I worked on cobras and hueys the avionics systems, so that'swhere I got all my understanding of electronics and what not,"explained Blaker.
Blaker served six-years as a Marine, and was stationed all overthe world, and after finishing his service, he now spends his timebuilding wheelchairs that work on the beach. He was inspired toextend the freedoms non-handicapped people enjoy to those who stillwant to experience the beach.
"The ultimate goal is to get people that can't go out there andenjoy the beach get them back out there again you know. A lot of myfriends I was in the military with lost legs and what not and youknow a lot of them were athletic of course and loved to go to thebeach and you can't do that with a regular wheelchair," Blakersaid.
Blaker designed a chair with electronic motors, and sandfriendly wheels. It even has an umbrella and an adjustable joystickfor left and right handed users. He knows other beach accessiblewheelchairs exist, but said his is one of kind. It can run forhours on battery and hurdle over large curbs.
"It does give them the freedom to go where they want to go andthey don't have to have anyone push them. If they go look at aseashell, they can turn around and go back to the condo all bythemselves," said Blaker.
Typically Blaker rents out three to four beach wheelchairs amonth, but since the oil spill, his business has come to a standstill.
"Even with advertising and my website and business cards beinghanded out everywhere I'm lucky to get one rental a month," Blakersaid.
Despite a gloomy outlook, Blaker said he'll continue to buildmore chairs in hopes the beaches will get cleaned. He said its allin the name of freedom.
"Freedom is something I would give my life for," addedBlakner.
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