Submitted by: Jason Anderson
As I was taking a stroll on the boardwalk one evening with my wife, enjoying the cool fresh summer air and watching the waves sweep up the sand on the shore, I suddenly noticed an elderly person in a wheelchair struggling to move forward. I quickly ran over to help and realized that the front wheels of his chair were stuck in the soft sand.
I was honestly surprised that he got so far from the boardwalk without getting stuck, but this wasn’t the time to figure that out, it was time to help him, so I did. I got his front tires out of the sand and then pulled the wheelchair backwards, which I figured would be easier since the large rear wheels allow the pressure to be distributed over a larger area. I scanned the area and found a ramp back onto the boardwalk planks and I led him back to safety. He profoundly thanked me, wished us both a good night and went on his way.
The little encounter got me thinking how difficult it must be for individuals in a wheelchair that can’t they enjoy the everyday things that we do. I wondered if there wasn’t a simple way for wheelchair users to enjoy the beach and not have to stay on the boardwalk and watch the fun from afar.
I thought about it a bit and I realized that it’s possible that if the front wheels of that gentleman’s wheelchair were a little bigger, he might not have gotten stuck in the sand. Standard manual wheelchairs have 8″ front wheels, but bigger wheels might work better. Another thing I noticed, after searching around a bit about wheelchairs used on the beach, was that wheelchairs with slightly wider rear wheels, as well as those with more traction, seem to do better on sand – even the loosely packed sand that’s commonly found on the beachfront. I did see that they sell beach wheelchairs, but the prices are beyond reason for anyone who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a spare wheelchair – unless they have a home on the beach, in which case it might be a worthwhile investment.