Mainer Invents Off-Road Wheelchair
Web Editor: Kara Matuszewski, Reporter/Anchor
John Rackley of Eliot broke his neck 10 years ago and for awhile wasn't able to go out and hunt. Then, when looking at his daughter's bike one day, he came up with the idea of the Renegade Wheelchair.
The Renegade has puncture resistant tires, seven gears and a trailer hitch. Rackley can now propel himself down his snow and ice covered driveway without any problem. Before, he says, he would just be spinning his tires.
"There's no way I can go across the ice and the garage in this chair," he says pointing to his everyday chair. "But this chair, it's a piece of cake."
Rackley doesn't have to worry about using his hands to push himself, like in his other chair, the Renegade has two poles and by pushing them forward he moves forward, pulling them back puts on the brake. "I couldn't go out in bad weather because pushing the regular chair, because my hands would get all wet and freezing," he says. Now, he doesn't have to worry about that and he can go out and partake in his favorite pastime -- hunting.
"The year before, all my friends are telling me stories about, 'I tracked a deer for two miles' and all that got to me because I used to hunt all the time," he said. "And I knew I wanted to come up with something. And then just that day it just popped into my head and it works."
Now, he's hoping more people will want to follow in his wheel tracks and buy a Renegade Wheelchair. They're going for $3995 and he admits, he doesn't know whether insurance would cover the cost.
He just wants more people to be able to go out and do what he's already doing. "It's fun," he said. "This part is all new to me. Making the chair was the easy part, I think. Now trying to sell them is a little different."