Challenged Athletes Foundation gives out three GRIT wheelchairs to children in Idaho

Posted at 12:35 PM, May 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 20:33:11-04

GRIT makes all-terrain wheelchairs to help adaptive athletes enjoy the outdoors, back in January this company led by a husband and wife team who earned their degrees in mechanical engineering at MIT designed the first-ever freedom chair for a child.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation partnered with GRIT to make all this possible and an Idaho boy named Teddy got the first chair ever made back in January.

Since then the Challenged Athletes Foundation has given out 80 GRIT wheelchairs and last weekend three more children in Idaho received a new chair.

"I’m pretty fast in this thing," said seven-year-old Clara Longoria who was born with spina bifida. "I am really thankful for everybody for giving me this chair."

The GRIT wheelchair is designed as an all-terrain wheelchair that will help Clara enjoy the trails behind her house in Avimor.

"You push forward on the levers that are connected through a chain drive so you are using your bigger upper body muscles," said Tish Scolnik of GRIT. "It is better ergonomically and the cool trick from physics is depending on where you place your hands you are effectively changing your gear ratio."

The Challenged Athletes Foundation also gave out chairs to five-year-old Jaxon Palmer who also has spina bifida and a five-year-old Zella Egan who has cerebral palsy, both of them are from Twin Falls.

“We are really trying to push the envelope on innovation and saying how can we get our kids out there faster so that they can fall in love with the outdoors just as quickly as their peers," Said Jenn Skeesick the director of Idaho CAF.

To really capture the magic of the moments when these children received their new off-road wheelchairs you will have to watch the video.

But for the Longoria family it goes beyond the chair, they moved to Idaho from Texas and wondered how they would fit in.

They instantly got connected with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and in January Clara had her first cross country skiing experience at Sun Valley.

"That is what's so great when you meet the people you know that there is no limit to what they will go to for these kids and that right there really explains who they are," said Clara's father Joey Longoria. "There is no wall they want everybody involved, they want everybody included no matter what is going on and that is what makes it so great."

In 2020 the Challenged Athletes Foundation has helped nearly 4,000 people across the world by providing close to six million dollars in grants, so far this year they have provided enough grants to provide 80 kids with new GRIT wheelchairs including four now in Idaho.

"I’m a new mom so seeing the smile on those kids' faces is the best part of anything I’ve ever done," said Scolnik.