People with mobility challenges will have an opportunity to use a track chair to access the beach and get to the ocean during the inaugural David’s Chair Florence Beach Day Excursion June 16.
David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems (David’s Chair) is bringing a fleet of their track chairs to Florence, Oregon, to give individuals with mobility challenges an opportunity to get on the beach for a couple of hours. During the event, the public will get an introduction to the mission of David’s Chair and their plans for a possible full-time chair in Florence in the future.
David’s Chair provides the use of their track chairs for free to individuals with mobility challenges. The organization is working with local volunteers and organizations that would like to support the permanent placement of a chair in Florence. Additional supporters are welcome to get involved.
Organizers will have two-hour “test-drive” spots available starting at 10:00 a.m. with the last chairs coming back around 4:00 p.m. There will be five adult chairs and one youth chair. The event will be hosted at the north side of Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center in Florence. David’s Chair has filled most of the time slots through a pre-registration, but there will be opportunities to come to the beach and use a track chair on a first come first served basis the day of the event.
“Our Chamber is a powerful catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for a stronger community,” says Chamber president/CEO Bettina Hannigan. “Working with David’s Chair is in perfect alignment with our values of adding accessibility to our local beaches.”
The event is supported by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Florence, the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association, New Friends Memory Care in Florence, and Florence-area resident PJ Woods.
Woods was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years ago. Though still somewhat ambulatory, she spends more time on her mobility scooter these days. She heard about David’s Chair when they had their Spring Break excursion to Brookings.
Woods said, “For me, it’s been about four years since I’ve been on the beach. This means getting back to my happy place. It brings me a sense of freedom and gives me back something that was taken from me. The beach is healing and energizing. There’s a healing power from being near the water. I’m excited to have a small part in the David’s Chair excursion in Florence.”
CEO and Founder Steve Furst said, “We are excited to continue our mission and hold our first excursion in Florence, Oregon. Everyone deserves to experience freedom and independence in the outdoors.”
The David’s Chair’s mission is to enrich the lives of mobility impaired people with independence and freedom by empowering them to engage in outdoor activities they previously were unable to, free of charge.
“We are working with some amazing people to bring our track chairs to the Oregon coast to give everyone with mobility challenges the opportunity to use our track chairs. The ocean is powerful and the sand is a barrier. We provide that bridge to the ocean,” added Furst.
Arrangements are being worked out to have a place to store the chairs and keep them clean and charged.
For more information, visit DavidsChair.org, or call or email Kirk Mickelsen at 541-821-7331 or email@example.com.
Mickelsen reports that Newport will have a chair ongoing; sponsored by the parks and recreation department to store, manage usage, and keep charged. Seaside has a full-time chair sponsored by the Seaside Elks, Chamber of Commerce, and Seaside Downtown Association. He adds that the City of Manzanita sponsors a chair along with Tillamook Travel for their area, and that Pacific City’s fire department and a private supporter are finalizing plans for a chair.
About David’s Chair
David’s Chair got its start in 2017, after Medford resident David Hartrick was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). An avid hunter and fisherman, David immediately began searching for a way to enjoy the outdoors in the confines of a wheelchair. With the help of co-founder Steve Furst, the pair discovered Action Trackchairs and raised enough money to buy one. David recognized he wouldn’t be able to use it for long and dreamed of others benefiting from the chair as well; shortly after, the non-profit David’s Chair was born.
David passed away on January 11, 2018, just 11 months after his ALS diagnosis. However, David’s Chair continues to give the gift of independence and freedom to people with ALS and other mobility challenges. David’s original Action Trackchair and many newer chairs have been used by people with mobility challenges to go places and experience freedom they haven’t been able to, free of charge.
For more information about how to join, support, or volunteer with the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, contact president/CEO Bettina Hannigan at Bettina@FlorenceChamber.com or 541-997-3128.