CEU instructors unite to create wilderness access for16-year old

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Posted Thursday, September 9, 2004 - 12:00am

Have you ever wanted to do something and not been able to? Imagine that you wanted to go hiking but your ability to move was only through the constraints of where wheelchairs had access.

CEU Automotive Instructor Stan Martineau is an advisor for a youth group with just such a-person in it. In late June the youth group was traveling on a 22-mile hike in Wyoming and 16-year-old wheelchair bound Rob Davis wanted to go.

But there was a problem; horses aren't allowed where they were hiking and nobody could carry him. So Martineau got in touch with several places that deal with handicapped individuals to ask what could be done. None of them had anything or any ideas.

When he found out that no one could help him, he did not give up. He got together a group of boys from the youth group and enlisted the help of both of CEU's welding instructors, Mike Tyron and Lon Youngberg, to build a handcart onto which a wheelchair could be placed. Once the chair was on the cart the others on the hike would pull it over the rough terrain.

"It really surprised me that no one had ever found a way to get a handicapped person on some of these hikes, and this was a joint effort from a lot of people," said Martineau, "I was really glad that we could help him."

Coming up with idea was easy; actually building a cart took a lot of effort and hard work. Over a period of weeks, the boys designed and built a metal apparatus using all donated materials and money from their own pockets. In order to ensure the safety of the cart, the group enlisted the help of CEU's welding instructors. They also had an ADA expert from the community who runs a business for handicapped people come to inspect it to make sure it was safe for the trek. He was so touched by what they were doing that he donated a new wheelchair to Davis for the trip. The cart had to be safe because for most of the trip, the group was about six miles from the nearest vehicle.

The cart proved safe enough and worked so well that once the group had finished their hike over some steep, rocky terrain they did a presentation of it for the Parks Department and donated it to them. The Parks Department is pleased with it and have had so many requests for it that they are making arrangements with welders and engineers to make five more of them to use at other sites.

Joseph Stout, one of the boys who helped to work on the cart said, "We all worked on it together and it felt good knowing that we helped him and that he was able to go."

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