Utah Company Develops All-Terrain Wheelchair
Sep 27, 2019, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm
PAYSON, Utah — A Utah County company wants to take wheelchairs where they can’t normally go with an all-terrain version, enabling people with limited mobility to come along on favorite hikes — even on tough trails.
The Emma Chair was designed by Todd Loader and Dale Pitts, who have built things together since they were kids growing up together in Pleasant Grove. They built the first all-terrain chair a dozen years ago for a girl named Emma who wanted to summit Mount Timpanogos with her friends.
“There’s just nothing out there that goes off-road like our chair does,” Pitts said.
A year ago, Extreme Motus co-founder Adam Beesley, who was their accountant at the time, spotted the chair and wanted to do more.
“I came in about 14 months ago and said let’s make more of these,” Beesley said.
He said the first experience he had with one of the wheelchairs was the best thing he had ever done in his life. Beesley wheeled a young man with a disability who had too often been left behind and said it was a great experience.
“Pushing somebody who couldn’t get outside… and, I said there’s more than just this one isolated person. There’s literally millions of people who need this experience,” he said. “Really, it’s a life-changer for them. He really enjoyed it. It was a great feeling for me to know that I could bring joy to somebody like that.”
The Emma wheelchair, made by Extreme Motus, glides over rocks and sand, climbs three stairs at a time and even floats in water.
“It goes on gravel extremely well,” Beesley said. “It handles potholes. It goes on grass. It’s designed to be extremely comfortable for the rider, but also easy for the person who’s pushing the chair.”
Over the past year, they’ve fine-tuned the wheelchairs and sold a handful while renting out others.
“We’ve really built kind of a fleet so that we can get families out,” Beesley said.
Families, like the Bartons of Riverton, can now take 12-year-old Tyler on wilderness hikes, even though a rare disease damaged his motor skills. His parents were thrilled to be able to include Tyler in their outdoor adventures.
“We know, once they use it, they’re like, we can’t live without this,” Beesley said.
“When you see the smiles on the faces of the people who are using them — they’ve been trapped in a wheelchair in their house, and they can’t get out and do the things that we take for granted every day,” Loader said.
At $3,500, they said they know the chairs are expensive. Some families and health care centers will buy them because they can afford the chairs for multiple people. Extreme Motus will also rent out the wheelchairs.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Pitts said. “It benefits so many people.”