An open letter to all potential partners and companies,
I’m writing you to request your sponsorship and support for building an efficient, modern, lightweight, speedy, and beautiful wheelchair. In return I offer free advertising and as much PR as I can on this blog, on the chair, or in merchandise. I realize this is a bit forward of me, so please allow me to present my story.
I was diagnosed with ALS in May, 2017. At that time, I was living a very happy and dreamlike life with my beautiful wife and 4 children.
I was pursuing a long and successful career, had settled into a house, and I was generally looking forward to a long life. Like everyone affected with this disease, it was not to be the case. Everything turned upside down and living for the long term is no longer thought of, just the day-to-day. This is not to say I’m giving up – I have not yet begun to fight, as so famously was said. But in that fight I will need help as my body becomes weaker and weaker. My wife Melanie is by my side through thick and thin, my strong right arm, my children are with me to help me see what the future looks like. My speech and thoughts can be shared by modified communication devices. Food can come through a tube. But my own body will be confined to a power wheelchair or a bed in the near future, and this is where I have hit a snag – I want to be mobile.
You see, modern power wheelchairs aren’t really that modern. Rehab, tilt-in-space, elevating, stair climbing wheelchairs are novel and needed, but they don’t do something that a lot of people would want – they don’t go places effectively. Modern power wheelchairs use lead batteries with a top range of 12 miles, maybe, if the charge holds up. The batteries have to be replaced often, if they are used frequently. They don’t go faster than 4-8 mph, without the ability to quickly go faster in emergencies. They are made with heavy steel, or maybe aluminum, and are incredibly heavy, poorly balanced, an unwieldy. They have terrible ride quality that makes it more painful to ride than walk, They have upgrades like “paint color”. They have turning radii that are terrible, especially inside, leading to knocked knees or knocked walls. They trap wheelchair users to either being confined to their homes or unable to move around inside because their chair is too big, or worse, forced to purchase more than one expensive piece of heavy hardware to move around indoors or outdoors. This isn’t just wheelchairs, either. Modern personal mobility scooters also are also bad, as I experienced in my first ALS foray on a scooter. Rocinante, as I named it, died on me 3 separate times, and only had a range of 6 miles. 6 miles, at Disneyworld, is less than half a day, especially with 4 kids.
So I researched. I saw that all the big, insurance approved power wheelchair manufacturers make similar chairs to each other. I would venture to say that none of those companies are pushing the power wheelchair into the future – instead they are sitting in the same tech from when the power wheelchair was invented.
This is where you, the company, or team, come in. You are the leading edge of what is out there. I see new technology being brought to bear in automobiles, auto racing, sensor tech, self-driving tech, bicycles, motorcycles, even so-called “last mile” transportation, and more. I wish to bring that technology to wheelchairs, so that disabled people such as I can have the freedom to enjoy our remaining lives, instead of being confined to a home and TV. Therefore, I ask your help, for your sponsorship.
I want to build this powerchair, with additional adjustments, rehab seating conformed in a Recaro-style seat. The major design concepts are there on the website, but through the help of my family and friends we might be able to make it happen.
I would like to ask you, the company, to sponsor this build. $100, $1000, $10,000, research, materials, design and engineering help. Do you want more concrete ideas of what I truly see that this powerchair could be? How about a carbon fiber chassis and seat, like Formula 1, or the new Ford GT? High end suspension systems, from Fox? How about lithium batteries from Tesla, or Fisker, or BMW? What about electric motor and battery technology from Formula E that can have a chair safely go up to 15, 20 mph when needed? What about Audi, Nissan, Ferrari, Toyota, all these companies with vehicles with hybrid systems? What about brain control technology from companies like Emotiv, programmed so that ALS patients who can’t move their arms can “Think” their way around? What about a control system that gives the patients the greatest control, like Robotec? What about partnering companies with universities like Hopkins or MIT to test and truly innovate? What about you, big wheelchair manufacturers, partnering with actual disabled people to design chairs that can do more than trap us in small areas, out of sight and mind, rotting away in front of a TV?
Help me build this. You can market the breakthroughs to make a profit! Call it a personal mobility vehicle or device, and address last mile transport! Hone the nuances of self driving tech without having the dangers of high speed car crashes! Develop longer lasting, more efficient batteries and motors, working on a smaller less expensive scale. Think of the possibilities this might bring to your company and brand!
If you offer your support, I will gladly speak for your company, be it on this blog, or painting the race team colors, or designing special decals or custom paint job for your company. I would gladly add decals to the chair for other sponsors, in strategic places, and wear company logos and merchandise for those companies that would support this project. I would speak often about the technology and the innovation provided for this project. For a small investment, you then get a loyal fan and more advertising than you could buy for such a cheap price, and the charity story would add to the appeal. Think, helping disabled people that normally might not be able to use your products, such as high end cars, or tools, or athletic gear, or sports gear, electronics, or even food and clothes, now being supported in breaking through barriers of mobility.
But I need help. I have ALS, and don’t have the strength or the timeline to do the work myself. I also don’t have the unlimited time of friends and family who have been so generous already in helping me bring this dream to reality. I cannot burden them more than I have been.
Therefore, I ask your help. You have the expertise, you have the money, materials, engineers, programming support, and other support. I ask this in the hope that this could turn a profit for you, thinking out of the box. I beg you to consider this open letter and respond with open minds. I know perfect is not for real, but maybe we can get closer.
Thank you so much for your time.
(To Reader land,
Thank you for allowing me to share what has been on my mind for the last 9 months. As I said in an earlier post, all I could think of when I was diagnosed was that I wanted a fast wheelchair. I know enough now to know it’s possible AND safe for ALS patients and other patients. This furthers the drive.
If you are inclined, I invite you to please share this letter, if you feel there are companies that can address what I’ve described. Reader land has a much larger circle than I have alone, and you all have been so kind and generous to me and my family.
I mentioned several companies in this letter, and I intend to write more. I’m writing race teams, car companies, bike companies, small local auto mechanics, electronic companies, etc. My friend/family Jack offered to help me modify a chair to where we want to go, and he is an amazing man. But there is still so much that could be done that he and I cannot do, which is why I’m still asking for companies support.
Thank you all!