With the blue light still flashing on the state trooper’s cruiser, after pulling-over Chet Dyreson in his gasoline-powered wheelchair on a major interstate, the trooper said, “Sir, I don’t think you can drive a wheelchair on a public highway, here in California. Where are you going?” Dyreson answered, “Washington D.C.”
In years past, Dyreson had enjoyed participating in motocross races along with his family who raced every weekend. But, at one particular race in 2000, Dyreson crashed and injured his T1 through T5 vertebrae in his spinal cord and became paralyzed.
After all the surgeries and rehabs, Dyreson realized he would have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Even though he couldn’t ride anymore or go off-road, he still went to motocross races with his family and repaired and replaced damaged and broken parts for the riders. But, he couldn’t get out on the track and repair motorcycles where they broke-down. That’s when he decided he’d build himself a gasoline-powered wheelchair with all-terrain tires, much like a motocross bike that could go anywhere and do anything. He first used a 250cc Kawasaki engine that had been designed and built for a John Deere ATV. The only problem he had with his ATV wheelchair was that his able-bodied friends always wanted to ride in it.
Flash back to the interstate, in November of 2010. The state trooper told Dyreson once he pulled him over in his gasoline-powered ATV wheelchair, “Let me check the regulations on driving a wheelchair on the interstate.” Dyreson explains, “To prove the reliability of my wheelchair, I decided to make a cross-country trip of 4,000 miles, from my home in California to Washington D.C. If the wheelchair didn’t break-down on that trip, then I knew there was very-little chance it would leave me stranded in the wilderness.” With a 3-1/2-gallon gas tank, Dyreson’s range was 350 miles on each fill-up.
As the officer walked from his cruiser back to Dyreson sitting on the side of the road in his wheelchair, he said, “Mr. Dyreson, I clocked you running 55-miles per hour in that wheelchair. I found out there’s no law against driving a wheelchair on the interstate. So, you have a good day, and good luck on your trip.” Dyreson completed the trip without a single breakdown, and since then, he’s participated in a wide-variety of off-road races and motocross events and traveling to fishing spots in his gasoline-powered ATV wheelchair.
To learn more about this amazing man and the ATV wheelchairs he creates for the outdoors, go to Chet Dyreson’s website at http://www.wheelingtocuresci.org. To read more stories about amazing people who have overcome their injuries, get the new Kindle eBooks, “Moving Forward: The Stories of Hometown Heroes” and “Courage: The Stories of Hometown Heroes,” both by John E. Phillips. Go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the names of these books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, Smartphone or computer.
Images courtesy of John Phillips