Contact: Bobby Curley
Freedom Chair Presentation
At Red Apple Farm Sunday
PHILLIPSTON – State Rep. Susannah Whipps Lee (R-Athol) will join other community members Sunday, Aug. 21, from 10- 11 a.m. at the Red Apple Farm for the presentation of a Freedom Chair to Andy Kingsley of Athol, a veteran of the Afghan war.
The program is organized by North Quabbin Trails Association (NQTA) President Bobby Curley of Athol, with the cooperation of the Rose family, owners of the orchard, and the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Attendees will gather at the base of the wind turbine there at 10 a.m. for brief comments and chair demonstrations by Kingsley and others.
Whipps Lee stated, “I'm very happy to see the North Quabbin Trails Association has gone above and beyond to share their passion of hiking with people with disabilities. This is a perfect example of how our community excels in inclusion.”
The veteran, whose injuries in the war included the loss of a leg, uses his upper body strength in the chair to go out on trails inaccessible with ordinary wheelchairs.
With donations from community members and proceeds from a raffle, NQTA has purchased two of the easy-to-use specialized wheelchairs. One is a gift to Kingsley, the other will be maintained at the Orange Innovation Center, 131 West Main St., Orange, for use by area residents and visitors who have mobility issues.
The chairs are manufactured by a Somerville firm called GRIT, launched by recent graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. GRIT representatives will be present at the program. Anyone who attends can try out a chair.
Curley commented, “As a bonus, come see Nate Johnson of Orange whose family has also acquired a Freedom Chair for him, and see how incredible Nate, in a few short weeks, is doing on his chair.” Johnson has cerebral palsy.
Curley added: “We will also be unveiling our plans on utilizing NQTA's trail system, including the trails around Red Apple Farm, to begin the cutting edge program of redefining what is meant by ‘handicapped access.’ Come on out for a short while and see a true game changer for the challenged mobility community and how our North Quabbin region can be a base to effect this change !”
NQTA, which creates, maintains and maps trails in the region, plans to develop a four-level easy-to-difficult system for non-paved trails that can be used by people with challenged mobility.
Mia Haringstad of the Visitors Bureau pointed out that the Freedom Chair availability goes along with the installation of a universal Millers River access dock at the Orange Community Boat House, and another soon to be installed in Athol’s Allen E. Rich Environmental Park. She proudly stated, “Our region will offer unique opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy recreational opportunities on our trails, and on the Millers River.”
Video #1 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwWlt11FU3jdalU3X0VNRHU3Um8/view?usp=drivesdk
Video #2 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwWlt11FU3jdU2gwdjk5Y3F5WTQ/view?usp=drivesdk