This Wheelchair Looks like a Tank – All-Terrain Handicap Assistance Now Available at National Parks

It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone who has gone through a life-changing situation use her personal pain as a springboard to bring some comfort and even joy to others in a similar situation.

Such is the story of Amiee Copeland.

Copeland is an outdoors enthusiast who once thoroughly enjoyed activities such as rock climbing, backpacking and trail running when she wasn’t busy with her college coursework.

Then in 2012, when she was a 24-year-old psychology student at the University of Georgia, she was in a zip-lining accident that led to a flesh-eating bacterial infection, according to WSB-FM in Atlanta.

Shortly after that, in order to save her life, she had to undergo the amputation of both of her hands, her right foot and most of her left leg.

Copeland was not the type to just give up. Instead, she made it her life’s purpose to get back to being active as soon as she possibly could and help others with physical challenges similar to hers.

She started a foundation that made specialized wheelchairs for those who wanted to be able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Through the Aimee Copeland Foundation and its partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Copeland created high mobility, all-terrain track wheelchairs and arranged for them to be available to others with physical challenges who love the outdoors.

The specialized wheelchairs have treads on them similar to those of a tank or bulldozer.

They were first introduced at a national park — Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan — in 2019, according to The Washington Post. The wheelchairs also are available in state parks in Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota and others.

These treads are designed to allow the user to explore more rugged terrain involving mud, water, sand and snow, according to WSB-TV.

This gives disabled people the freedom to enjoy activities such as exploring nature trails, fishing and attending adaptive hunting events that they typically could not enjoy with a regular wheelchair.

The specialized wheelchairs are available free of charge at several of Georgia’s parks and historic sites.

“Her foundation’s initiative is to make sure that people with physical challenges can still enjoy outdoor recreation,” Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for GDNR’s State Parks and Historic Sites, told WSB-FM.

“This is a wonderful thing for us to be able to offer people with muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injuries. We’re really pleased to be able to partner with [Copeland] and open up more of Georgia’s state parks to everybody,” Hatcher said.

The chairs were officially introduced to the public on Nov. 4 at Panola Mountain State Park near Atlanta.

“People who had never used them before got the opportunity to try them out, and it was really, really rewarding to see people’s faces when they got to go down really steep slopes and over small branches and places that they would not have been able to go in a regular wheelchair,” Hatcher said.

For more information about the all-terrain wheelchairs in Georgia, visit AllTerrainGeorgia.org or GAstateParks.org.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.