Patrick Dougherty suffered a severe motocross accident seven years ago and as a result is now a C6/7 incomplete quad. Did Dougherty let this slow him down? Nope! He is the owner/inventor of a radical new product called FreeWheel. FreeWheel is an attachment for mobile wheelchairs that turns them into a off-road adventure vehicle!
The Free Wheel is a front end wheel attachment that hooks onto the feet rests of the chair, which allows for added stability and mobility. “With the FreeWheel, you can safely push over surfaces that would typically be impossible! Instead of struggling or popping “wheelies” to go over grass, curbs, or down dirt trails, you can now safely push over almost any obstacle,” says Dougherty. “Not only does the FreeWheel make it easier to push yourself, it makes it easier for anyone who is pushing you and you’ll feel much more secure being pushed.”
After attaching to your footplate, the FreeWheel allows you to easily cross rough ground that would otherwise prove difficult. It lifts your castors over the ground and rides on the large wheel to provide a comfortable and stable ride, easily riding over gravel, grass and dirt. Fit some mountain bike tires to your wheelchair and you could easily cross sand and snow. This system is adjustable to suit most fixed frame wheelchairs. It can be attached quickly (within seconds) to your footplate, while an easy to use clamp keeps it secure.
As Dougherty began testing proto types and making small changes, he started to see the final design version emerging. “As the design progressed and word got out I have had people from all over the world asking for the FreeWheel and testing it in all environments. Changes to the design were constant and what we have now is a time-tested final product,” says Dougherty. Now that he has the final design completed, Dougherty is on a mission to share his passion for adventure with the world.
Setup for the FreeWheel requires 15 minutes of easy assembly. Once assembled, the wheel simply snaps into place quickly. When the wheel is not being used, it can be stored on the back perch of the chair for quick access when needed. Pricing for the FreeWheel starts at $499.99 and other accessories such a wheel rack attachment that can hold small belongings is also available.
Dougherty has always had a strong passion and adventure for life. His chair does not define him, but instead he is in the cockpit of his chair and continues to do all of the action packed activities he loves. “Life is for living and everyday I am now out, actively participating, and I know the FreeWheel has a very positive impact on my health. My children know I’ll be out at the soccer games cheering them on, camping and going on hikes in the wood as a family. It has been a wonderful experience meeting others in like situations and seeing how their lives have changed with the FreeWheel. They talk about their independence, going places they never thought they’d be able to go, that’s what I’m talking about!”
For more information on FreeWheel and more info on where to pick one up, visit www.gofreewheel.com.
Download Discovering: Accessible US Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users
These accessible travel suggestions are part of the Get Out & Enjoy Life [GOEL] program that is a joint educational initiative between Wheel:Life, a global community of wheelchair users, and SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine, published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
More than 70,000 wheelchair users from 108 countries took part in Wheel:Life resources in 2014.
You’ll find that each chapter of this book provides easily-accessible destinations that are fun and engaging for friends who use wheelchairs. Discovering is an easy, encouraging read that will help you explore all kinds of travel destinations and family fun spots, whether you are new to using a wheelchair or a seasoned pro.
Please note that not every state in the US is featured in this travel guide, just the ones that we have included in our GOEL program to date.