It finally happened. After 11 years my wheelchair has finally given out. I have put countless miles and gone on many adventures with this thing and it has handled them all like a trooper. I drove this thing hard, only stopping to charge it up before going back out through the dirt, the mud, the snow, up hills, across mountains, and occasionally, through the air. It's only now that it's dead that I can really look back and realize just how much I have done with it, and how well it has handled it. It has done for me what no other chair could; it has got me through the wilderness and through the grocery store with the same ease and comfort.
As you will see in the video below, it had started cutting out on me whenever I tried to tilt the seat and even while driving. It was better in reverse for a while, but now it can barely move an inch without malfunctioning. I get a one-flash code from the key indicator that I was told by tech support means "electrical failure". They say it is either the controller (joystick), the control box under the seat, or the wires inbetween. The bad part is, they stopped manufacturing the controller and the control module 3 years ago with the release of their new Frontier V6 model (the model I am hoping to get with this campaign). The company I am taking it to for repair says that they will check all of the wire connections, but anything beyond that, is beyond them. There is a company that may still have these parts, but my chair would have to be sent to them for repair, a cost that I fear is going to be too great.
So, as of right now I am stuck in bed. I have my manual chair for emergencies, but that thing is far too painful for me to use regularly. As you can probably imagine, I am very concerned with all of this, and of course, I am once again asking for your help. I do not expect you to donate if you have already, but spreading the word about this campaign through word of mouth and social media would be extremely appreciated!
On a positive note, we were able to replace my dying van with a 2008 model, but on the not so bright side, the van is heavily financed with a high monthly payment.
My poor chair is dead. Help me if you can plz.
My wheelchair and wheelchair van have both began to deteriorate at the same time, totaling $47,000 to replace. I feel strange asking for help like this, but the high price is encouraging me. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Below this text is a video that gives an example of the activities I perform that require a full size van and an all-terrain wheelchair. Below the video is the full, and I mean FULL story. Thanks for stopping by!
Slight profanity warning
A diving accident left me paralyzed from the chest down 10 years ago at the age of 17. Before the I accident I lived a very active lifestyle, always on the move, hanging out with friends and trying to push the limits. While I can't maintain that lifestyle exactly, I'm still active despite my limitations.
Once I came to terms with my new life it was time to find a wheelchair to suit my needs, something I quickly found out was not so easy. My insurance company said that they would help me, financially, to obtain a Hoveround, but after seeing the pictures and reading some awful reviews, I knew that was not the chair for me. I was determined to continue my favorite activities such as camping, fishing, shooting, hunting, and just enjoying the outdoors. I needed a chair that could handle that rough terrain.
At one point in my search I came across this. It's called the Tank Chair and I just HAD to have it. I begged and pleaded with my mom, explaining how I could use the Tank Chair for outdoors and use the insurance provided Hoveround indoors. The fact that we'd have to transfer me every single time I went in or out or that we'd have to load the Tank Chair onto a trailer every time we wanted to go somewhere were just minor details. Please Mom??? Well, as you can probably imagine, the answer was no. My search continued.
After a bit more searching I finally found the winner. A center-wheel drive, all-terrain wheelchair with 0 degree turning and large, soft tires attached to a specially designed suspension system that allowed for extreme off-road and climbing capabilities. It was called the Frontier X5, and it was perfect. I immediately filled out the order form, getting everything I needed and skipping the features I could live without to keep the cost down. I got an electric adjustable backrest and tilt, pull off arm rests, toggle switches on the control box, the headlight/tail light combo, and the goal post control stick. I skipped the power leg rests, swing away arm rests, and the 12 inch seat elevator. Even though I stuck to the bare necessities, it still came to roughly $30,000.
I was blown away. That was the price of a sports car. That was a down payment on a house. That was insane! I couldn't believe it, but I had to accept it. If I wanted to still do the activities I loved, I had no other choice. My parents amazingly covered half of the cost from their savings and the other half came from a $16,500 loan from my bank; an amount that took me 5 years of paying well over the monthly minimum to pay off. I received my chair a month later and I was a happy man.
Fast forward 10 years and many moments of hard use later, and what was once a beautiful machine, now somewhat resembles Frankenstein. Whether it was camping, hunting, or even just taking the dogs to the river, I went through some hardcore stuff in that chair. Before the accident I had a lifted '88 Bronco that I wheeled the tires off of, and this chair --with some friends spotting and pushing, of course-- put that truck to shame. I made the right choice with this thing. I have thrown everything I could at it, and it saw me through it all. I even rolled it down a hill at one point. It was nighttime at my friends property and we were all sitting around the campfire. I decided to take my leave. As I was listening to the instructions from a friend who was helping maneuver my way around the fire and away from the steep embankment all around me, I mistook right for left and ended up sliding sideways down the hill until my tires caught and I went over. Hard. The right side arm rest pad came off and the frame tweaked a little bit, but she kept on kicking; and that was only my second week with the chair.
Unfortunately all good things come to an end. The old girl isn't as spry as she used to be and she is steadily getting worse. Innovation In Motion came out with the Frontier V6 some time ago, making my X5 obsolete and the parts almost impossible to come by. And as you most likely guessed, the Frontier V6 is what I want to get next.
Since bad things come in pairs, the other reason for this gofundme campaign is because of my current wheelchair van, a 1994 Ford Econoline E-150 Club Wagon. It was converted by the previous owner, with the body raised 3 inches to accommodate a 6 inch lowering of the floor. The conversion also made the driver's seat removable and equipped the van with hand controls as well as a "Zero Effort" power steering box.
We bought this thing about 8 years ago and have had nothing but problems with it. We have had to have the motor mounts replaced, the transmission rebuilt, the water pump replaced, the radiator replaced on 3 separate occasions due to the horrible overheating that plagues this van, and the power steering system redone, just to name a few. As of right now, the dash is lit up like a Christmas tree, illuminated by the Check Engine, ABS, and Airbag lights. The van has always had trouble starting, leaving us stranded in parking lots in 100+ degree weather on several occasions. The brake rotors are warped, the shifter linkage is loose, making gear changes difficult and dangerous at times -- the van and I began rolling out of the driveway at one point after Mom got out, forcing her to Superwoman her way back in to rescue me -- and to top it all of, the wheelchair lift has begun to malfunction, picking and choosing when it wants to work and when it just wants to let you jiggle the switches back and forth like a fool as you cuss under your breath.
We have finally had enough. We can't keep allowing this thing to nickle and dime us. We need something reliable and we believe we have found it in the form of a 2009 Ford Econoline E-250. It has low miles, a good under-the-body wheelchair lift, and a modern 5.4L engine. They are asking $27,000.
We have priced the wheelchair out, again only selecting the bare necessities -- we even skipped things we can pull off of my current chair, such as the backrest and seat cushion -- and it came out to $20,000.
Together that makes $47,000. I have made this campaign with a $40,000 goal because I was approved for a $3,000 loan and my parents have $4,000 in savings. I am only asking for assistance for the portion we cannot do on our own.
Now, I wrote this novel so that I can be upfront and honest here. I could get my insurance to help me, but they only cover a certain type of chair. These chairs would keep me stuck to paved surfaces, leaving my favorite activities out of my reach. I would not ask for it if was not necessary.
To be completely honest, I feel strange doing this. Asking for help in this way. I don't know what to expect, but I figured I could give it a shot without much to lose.
Thank you for viewing my post, and if you managed to make it all the way through that wall of text you are a trooper!
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- Cole Matejczyk
Organizer and beneficiary
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