- Gender: Female
- Age: 33
- Condition: Spinal Cord Injury T-12
- Prior Device: Manual wheelchair
- Main Use: Hiking, social activities and running errands.
What’s your story?
The outdoors has always been extremely important to me. I grew up hiking and camping, and I was also an all-star athlete in basketball. I love to be physical and get dirty. After becoming paralyzed when I was fourteen from a car accident, my spirit did not waiver; I was still motivated for life. I planned on an athletic scholarship, but my focus was now academics, in which I was granted a full scholarship to the University of Southern California where I graduated with honors.
After four years working at Wente Vineyards as an event planner, I broke away to focus on expanding the world of accessible travel via www.wheelchairtraveling.com. There are thousands of resources currently available, and I only hope to expose more opportunities and quality companies that are improving access for all around the world. I am also a part of the National Park Service, Christopher Reeve Foundation, New Mobility Magazine, Abilities Expo, www.wheelingcalscoast.org, and more.
Why did you choose Model M?
Outdoor recreation! When I saw Model M, I saw its potential to plow over all kinds of debris and obstacles in the outdoors. I knew I could explore more than ever. Just getting outside in the brisk, winter winds on paved, bike trails was exhilarating at higher speeds. I was able to climb up and down steep, slippery hills with stability and comfort, through mud and wet grass, and rock crawl in uneven, uncharted wheelchair hiking areas.
What do you like about Model M?
The look and size is sleek and modern like nothing I’ve seen before. A few people said, “I like it because it doesn’t look like a wheelchair.” People were pleased and interested when they saw me maneuvering in the WHILL Model M, especially on the trails.
The four-wheel drive capability is one of the main reasons I love the Model M. I could really feel the stability and traction as I maneuvered over uneven terrain. Also, after being paralyzed eighteen years, I know shoulder health is a key part of quality of life. Power assistance is a requirement for my active lifestyle and well-being. It has nothing to do with being inactive, rather doing more for longer. I still have the will to be outdoors, and Model M ensures that will always be the case.
Another feature that stands out is that the Model M is much more quiet compared to other power wheelchairs. I can feel comfortable touring a museum without getting in the way or feeling like a bull in a china shop.
How has Model M impacted your life?
The Model M has given me more freedom to hike and explore in the great outdoors than ever before. I don’t have to plan as much whenever I want to go on a hike. It doesn’t feel like I am physically limited, instead I feel more physically capable than able-bodied folks.
One time I went on a hike in my hometown. I picked a random trail not knowing how accessible it would be in the Model M. The trail was extremely rocky—a trail where skilled hikers, bikers and horsemen roamed. Despite the rugged and challenging terrain, I was able to carefully navigate over the rocks in Model M. Overcoming the obstacles was exhilarating. I felt like superwoman. Even over boardwalks the Model M seemed to absorb the shock of the bumps for a smoother ride.
I love going around in the WHILL Model M—the power and freedom is unmatched by anything else I have experienced. WHILL has created a new way of moving in the world, a physical advancement that has revolutionized mobility.
Note: Ashley had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.