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Central Oregon Coast Town Hosts Special Beach Wheelchair Excursion June 16

Published 05/22/23 at 5:52 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Central Oregon Coast Town Hosts Special Beach Wheelchair Excursion June 16

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(Florence, Oregon) – Those now-famous all-terrain electric wheelchairs known as track chairs have made their mark in two Oregon coast areas: Tillamook County and in Seaside. A third is on the horizon, as Florence hosts the inaugural David’s Chair Florence Beach Day Excursion June 16. This unique event will give a few lucky individuals a chance to roam the area's beaches for a couple of hours, and it gives others a rundown on how the David's Chair organization may establish a permanent track chair presence in town.

Florence is inviting those with mobility challenges to come and check it all out.

For the event, David's Chair (otherwise known as David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems) will be bringing a small fleet of chairs to Florence. Five adult chairs and one child chair will be available for the day's proceedings. Those attending will get about two hours of fun time on these particularly pristine central Oregon coast sands. They'll also get to see an introduction to the mission of David’s Chair and their plans for a possible full-time chair in Florence in the future.

The charitable organization figures out ways to provide individuals or organizations access to the especially agile mobile chairs, working with volunteers and groups to obtain them or at least free access to one. David's Chair is currently in the middle of such discussions for Florence. Additional supporters are welcome to get involved.

Attendees will have two-hour “test-drive” spots available starting at 10:00 a.m. with the last chairs coming back around 4:00 p.m. The event will be hosted at the north side of Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center in Florence. David’s Chair has filled most of the time slots through a pre-registration, but there will be opportunities to come to the beach and use a track chair on a first come first served basis the day of the event.


“Our Chamber is a powerful catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for a stronger community,” says Chamber president/CEO Bettina Hannigan. “Working with David’s Chair is in perfect alignment with our values of adding accessibility to our local beaches.”

The event is supported by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Florence, the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association, New Friends Memory Care in Florence, and Florence-area resident PJ Woods.

Woods knows and understands these issues well. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years ago. Though still somewhat ambulatory, she spends more time on her mobility scooter these days. Woods became aware of the David’s Chair organization when they had their Spring Break excursion to Brookings, on the south Oregon coast.

“For me, it’s been about four years since I’ve been on the beach,” Woods said. “This means getting back to my happy place. It brings me a sense of freedom and gives me back something that was taken from me. The beach is healing and energizing. There’s a healing power from being near the water. I’m excited to have a small part in the David’s Chair excursion in Florence.”

CEO and Founder Steve Furst said: “We are excited to continue our mission and hold our first excursion in Florence, Oregon. Everyone deserves to experience freedom and independence in the outdoors.”

The David’s Chair’s mission is to enrich the lives of mobility impaired people with independence and freedom by empowering them to engage in outdoor activities they previously were unable to, free of charge.

“We are working with some amazing people to bring our track chairs to the Oregon coast to give everyone with mobility challenges the opportunity to use our track chairs. The ocean is powerful and the sand is a barrier. We provide that bridge to the ocean,” Furst said.

Arrangements are being worked out to have a place to store the chairs and keep them clean and charged. For more information, visit DavidsChair.org, or call or email Kirk Mickelsen at 541-821-7331 or kirk@davidschair.org.

Mickelsen reports that Newport will have a chair ongoing; sponsored by the parks and recreation department to store, manage usage, and keep charged. Seaside has a full-time chair sponsored by the Seaside Elks, Chamber of Commerce, and Seaside Downtown Association. Currently, the City of Manzanita sponsors a chair along with Tillamook Coast for their area, and that Pacific City’s fire department and a private supporter are finalizing plans for a chair.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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