I was scrolling through Facebook, Saturday morning while procrastinating when I stumbled upon an article about the Kickstarter for the Freedom Chair: the Adaptive All-Terrain Mobility Machine.
My first thought,“Holy shit. These people are building the festival wheelchair.”
As I looked at this wheelchair, I daydreamed about pushing myself with ease through the grass, gravel, sand and mud that is inevitable at music festivals. The Freedom Chair would have been such a blessing in the mud at Fly Free Fest this year. As much as I hate to admit it, being covered in mud did put a damper on my Fly Free experience this year. Having the Freedom Chair would have made maneuvering easier and would have kept the mud off my arms.
I ugly cried, for multiple reasons as, I watched the videos and read more about this project.
I’m very emotional person; I cry when stuff makes me feel sad, happy or angry. I cried because that guy can work as a tailor again; this product is going to help so many get around so much easier and the part about getting off the pavement. Yes, yes, yes… All of us wheelchair users have had that “nah, it’s cool. I’ll watch you guys have fun without me from the sidewalk” moments.
I cried mostly for my selfish reasons. Getting a new wheelchair was a more difficult process than I anticipated. Last November I set out to get a new festival-friendly chair before the start of festival season in May.
I have Cerebral Palsy, and I’ve been unable to walk my whole life. I haven’t had a new chair since I was about 15 or 16 years old. I have insurance through my employer. So I assumed this would be pretty cut and dry and wouldn’t cost me much since a wheelchair is a medical necessity and my family never paid out of pocket in the past.
In August, after nine months and two different wheelchair companies I was finally sitting in my new wheelchair with a $3,040.77 bill for the out-of-pocket expense. After insurance, I still have to pay $253.40 for 12 months for a chair that isn’t even the everyday/festival chair of my dreams. So imagine my heartbreak when I see the chair that I not only want, but need would have cost me less. I shared my story, because the only negative reactions I read while researching this project have been the price and in comparison the price isn’t bad. Had the Freedom Chair been out in November I would have gladly forked over the money and not even bothered with the insurance company or other wheelchair companies.
I hope you will join me in supporting this Kickstarter. You will see me happily festival hopping in this chair or something similar one day.