Beach lover Madge Williams, pictured with her husband, Brent, and her late service dog, Tahoe, prefers the power beach chair options. A recent entry in her blog tells about her positive experience renting one from beachpowerrentals.com in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Learn more at wisdomandfaith.com/beach-wheelchair-travel.
Wheelchair users know that one of the most effective substances for stopping their movements is soft sand. Venturing off a sidewalk or boardwalk to head for the water can turn a pleasant outing into a frustrating adventure that can even be life-threatening in some circumstances.
I witnessed this firsthand a few years ago on a beach in Hawaii when I learned a lesson about the value of wider tires when crossing sand. On many Hawaiian beaches, the sand is compacted, thanks to wave action and the weight of foot traffic. In other locations the sand is soft, creating a potential trap for unwary wheelchair users.
My power wheelchair has smaller diameter wheels with tires that are wider than some other models. During a break from attending an international independent living conference, I joined my daughter Leslie at the beach. The sand was fairly compact, so I was able to roll closer to the water where we could talk while she enjoyed the sun.
Max Starkloff, co-founder along with his wife, Colleen, of one of the first independent living centers, Paraquad, in St. Louis, was a conference presenter. Like me, Max was also quadriplegic, but he used an older power chair with narrower tires. Unbeknownst to Leslie or me, Max attempted to join us at the beach but was able to travel only a few yards off the paved sidewalk before his wheelchair became trapped in the sand.
He was by himself, and no passerby offered to help.