- Gender: Female
- Age: 23
- Condition: FSHD Muscular Dystrophy
- Prior Device: Go Go Elite Traveler Scooter
- Main Use: Living life, advocacy, and work
What’s your story?
I’m a lifelong resident of Atlanta and attended the University of Georgia—Go Dawgs! I was born with FSHD muscular dystrophy and diagnosed when I was 9. Due to the nature and progression of the disease, I’ve been reliant on wheels since late 2015. That being said, I still enjoy an active lifestyle, exploring the city, going to parks, playing fetch with my cat, volunteering at the Georgia Aquarium, and planning my next great piggyback adventure. I’ve skydived, been piggybacked through the 82 mile Georgia stretch of the Appalachian Trail, and plan on hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro this year. I believe that no matter your physical condition, you can achieve extraordinary goals and overcome challenges life throws at you. I believe in the power of positivity and that you have to go after what you desire.
Why did you choose Model M?
I heard about WHILL from a coworker who test drove it at a tradeshow in California. When she sent me pics of its sleek design, I was hooked. I chose Model M due to its ability to take the broken Atlanta sidewalks with confidence and ease. In my free time, I roll around town to find sidewalk that is broken and inaccessible to wheelchairs and put in service requests to Atlanta City Services for repair. The scooter I used before was not robust enough to handle this terrain. Model M’s 4WD and superb stability opens the door to unexplored territory and provides me the opportunity to roam more freely to places I couldn’t go before. I now have more accessibility to advocate for continued disability awareness and better infrastructure, which is what I am passionate about.
What do you like about Model M?
Model M is my little spaceship. The sleek design is the first thing everyone comments on. The omni wheels look and feel like you’re floating on land. I’m always on the go so the speed of Model M and battery range on a single charge is perfect.
Since Model M is so quiet and nimble, it’s also perfect for indoors, including the workplace. Model M’s small footprint and tight turning radius make it easy to navigate narrow halls and doorways. The seat slide function allows me to sit comfortably at tables and be more involved in conversations at business meetings or lunch with friends. The armrests easily move up and down making it easy to transition from the chair without any hassle. Model M is designed to suit even taller folks; I’m 5”11’ and it was easy to customize the chair to fit my height. Unlike my scooter, Model M’s footplate, arm rests, and backrest can all be extended, which is great!
How has Model M impacted your life?
WHILL Model M allows me to live life, go further, dance, advocate for disability awareness in new ways, and explore the unknown. The 4WD allows me to participate in outdoor activities I wouldn’t have been able to before. No longer do I have to second guess traveling over pebbles, grass, uneven surfaces, or 3” curbs. This is a remarkable feature in a wheelchair as most of life’s surfaces are not level or paved. Model M gives me a whole new confidence, I’m proud to be seen in this mobility device—it enables me to be more connected to others while maintaining my independence.
There’s still a societal stigma against individuals in wheelchairs in thinking they’re incompetent, and driving a bulky, not so attractive power chair or grocery cart type scooter doesn’t help overcome this challenge. The design and product specs of Model M changes the game. People are mesmerized by it, and I often catch people staring. Model M’s design strips this stigma away and that’s why I believe in WHILL power.
Note: Carden had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.