When I survived a brain-stem stroke in 2005, I had to completely change how I looked at the world, approached adventures, and accessed wild places. While this has probably been the hardest challenge I have dealt with in my life, it has also been one of the most rewarding because my family and friends have made the outdoors possible for me.
Using a wheelchair has not dimmed my pursuit of challenges; it’s only made me change the ways that I experience them. This outlook on life led me to begin The Onward Project with the mission to encourage people with physical and life challenges to explore and enjoy wild places, whether in the Grand Canyon or the local park.
The Grand Advenchair team will consist of a hard-core group of family and friends who have been training for this trip. They are wildland firefighters, mountain bikers, backcountry skiers, and outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Oregon Adaptive Sports will provide critical staff and logistical support and film and produce a video documenting the 3-day expedition.
Early-on it became obvious that a standard, skinny-tired wheelchair was not going to allow me to get to the places I wanted to go. For over 8 years I’ve worked to create and refine a wheelchair that gets me off the road, on the trail, and into the wild. The AdvenChair is now ready: mountain bike tires, a larger front wheel, handlebars and disk brakes that allow control by the “driver”, and a towing system. This is not your grandfather’s wheelchair! My ultimate goal is to design and produce AdvenChairs to allow others with mobility challenges to access their own wild places and nurture their souls.
We will descend into the canyon via the South Kaibab Trail, dropping 5,000 ft over 7 miles to the Colorado River, and after a rest day climb back out on the 10 mile Bright Angel Trail.
Your support will help cover expedition costs within Grand Canyon National Park including food, permits and camping fees, and pack mules to haul gear in and out of the canyon, production of a video and limited travel costs. Any amount we raise beyond our $3,000 goal for trip expenses will go toward developing and promoting the next prototype of the AdvenChair.
Thank you for your support.
Please consider making a gift to support the Grand Advenchair at one of these levels:
_____ $500 Condor - help with production costs of a video documenting the Grand Advenchair.
_____ $250 Big Horn Sheep – help defray travel costs of team members
_____ $150 Mule – sponsor one of the pack mules we will use to haul our gear.
_____ $50 Ringtail Cat – cover the costs of camping permits and fees.
_____ $15 Canyon Wren – food for 1 person for a day.
Your donation cannot be considered tax deductable because The Onward Project is not a registered non-profit organization.
The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the tides, and tell a good story when we get home. -- Gary Snyder
Thank you all for your support!
Thank you all for your support!
One of my earliest and profound memories from the hospital following my stroke was when I was still in the ICU, dealing with a lot of pain, and not fully aware of what had happened to me and what was next. The nurse came in, tuned my bed toward the window, opened the curtains, and said “you have a lot of friends.” Gathered in the parking lot on a cold, snowy, late November Central Oregon day were close to 100 friends who had come to a barbeque fund raiser for me. With Yvonne’s help I waved and thought “Wow, there are a lot of people pulling for me. This is really a team effort and I need to do my part and work hard.” (I could only “think” this because I couldn’t talk at the time)
There will be 12 (maybe more) on the team that goes to the Grand Canyon with me but the “team” really is much bigger when the 40 or more people who have donated toward the Grand Advenchair are counted. Thank you all for the response so far! It means a lot to know that so many people are behind us! One donor said it so well “None of us gets down the road by our own steam alone. None of us. We all rely on the kindness of strangers and the generosity of friends.”
We’ve exceed our initial goal of $3,000 but will keep the campaign going through the trip to continue to raise money to support the development of the next prototypes of the Advenchair so that others can get off the road, on to the trail, and into the wild.
The team and I are preparing by working out, and testing and improving the chair. Though we obviously can’t reproduce the “Big Ditch”, we do have some awesome trails in Central Oregon to train on. One key team member (who unfortunately can’t make the trip) is a helicopter mechanic with a high level of detail, and always asks “What can go wrong here?” We’ve picked some rougher, more technical trails to test ourselves and the chair for the “What if?” scenario. We’ve refined our terminology and procedures and practiced things like backing down a too-steep trail, climbing stairs and water bars, and picking our line through rocky stretches. We’re basically writing the manual!
Comments from a friend:
You’re f*cking crazy. As always.
So are your friends. What a bass ass plan.
Enjoy the brutal trip. Y'all gonna laugh your asses off and swear at each other. So much fun.
Looking forward to the reports
Thanks again and stay tuned for more updates.
(Go to theonwardproject.org for a few more pictures)