Famous radio personality of the last millennium, Paul Harvey, once visited some of southwestern Utah’s great natural attractions and he subsequently expressed his views on his experience. While this is not a direct quote, he basically summed his feelings up with these words, “Yes, the land was majestic, but aren’t the people great!” He lavishly praised, on nationally syndicated radio, the warmth, the kindness, the patience, and the sincerity of the people he encountered on his Utah visit.
May 14, 2021 – By Mark Wade
People from around the world stood graciously to the side of the trail, in what is called Wall Street, within the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon National Park as Sam Durst passed in his balloon tired three wheeled vehicle of awesomeness. Onlookers beamed with happiness and grins of satisfaction as they realized what was happening. Sam, challenged by Cerebral Palsy since birth, was laughing with delight as his trusted pilot Ryan guided his wheelchair through towering rusted limestone hoodoos. Some observers wiped moisture from their eyes as they realized what was transpiring, and others tossed out questions, “Where did this vehicle come from?”, “Is it heavy?”, “Who makes it?”, “Where are you from?”
What these people were observing was a new type of wheelchair that opens the door to the exploration of trails in the outdoors. “It’s amazing to see how it changes, not only the wheelchair users life, but everyone in their family, and everyone in their circle of friends, says Ryan Grassley, director of marketing for the company that makes the Emma X3 all terrain wheelchair. “Thy now have access to places where they couldn’t go before. If you have a wheelchair user in your family and you’re trying to plan a vacation, you might never consider coming to Bryce Canyon because. It’s a long way to drive just to come look at it from the rim, and then turn around and leave. But if you have a wheelchair like this, then the park becomes much more accessible.”
This vehicle, which is built by a small company called Extreme Motus. is the creation of Dale Pitts and Todd Loader. The impetus for this device came from a challenge to create a chair to take a paralyzed girl, named Emma, to the top of one the highest mountains in Utah’s Wasatch Range, Mount Timpanogos.
Sam and Ryan now know how amazing it is to see people they’ve never met who want to be involved. They often have complete strangers jump in and lend a hand to push uphill or get around a challenging part in a trail. Grassley says they’ve had people walk past them and then turn around and say “Hey do you all need some help?” and then just stick around and give a hand along the rest of the trail.”