“The front wheels on Model M are so much bigger and capable of moving on any terrain, and that opens the door to go many more places.” - Zackery

  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 21
  • Condition: Spinal Cord Injury Quadriplegic C4
  • Prior Device: ZX-1 Power Add-On
  • Main Use: Daily tasks

What’s your story?

Back in 2010, I was at Newport Beach with some friends when I injured myself. I dived under a wave and hit a sandbar, instantly breaking my neck. My body was paralyzed but I was fully conscious, floating face down in the water, when one of my friends flipped me over and saved my life. After staying at the hospital for a week, I was transferred to Casa Colina, a rehabilitative center in Pomona, for about 8 weeks. Physical therapy helped me adjust to life in a wheelchair before I moved back to my house, just in time for the 16th birthday party my mom threw for me. Today, I’m attending Cal State Fullerton for a degree in human services, interning for the summer at the Boys & Girls Club, and visiting Goodwill Fitness for therapy. One thing I do today that I never thought I would do is public speaking. I don’t like being the center of attention, but sharing my story is the right thing to do. I’ve shared about my injury many times in front of up to 400 people.

Why did you choose Model M?

I found an ad on the Internet for Model M and saw that I could test drive it for free. I thought the design was cool, so I watched a video and could tell that it was something different, something unique from other wheelchairs. I love how Model M can go on all types of terrains—cement, grass, gravel, and dirt. I used to ride dirt bikes before my injury and loved going off-roading, but that’s something my current chair can’t do. It’s difficult to go in grass or sand because the wheels get stuck. The front wheels on Model M are so much bigger and capable of moving on any terrain, and that opens the door to go many more places.

What do you like about Model M?

I like the wheels, the design, and the comfort. With a lot of wheelchairs, you need them to be customized to fit to your body, but Model M fits me very naturally. I also love the battery life of Model M. It lasts longer than my current chair and also goes faster, something that is useful for traveling long distances. Another cool feature on Model M is the seat slide. There have been so many times where I’ve been at restaurants and my armrest hits the table so I can’t fit underneath. It’s very uncomfortable, but Model M allows me to sit easily at any table. It’s such a unique design that a bunch of people—even strangers—have come up to me asking about Model M. It’s a really great conversation starter.

How has WHILL impacted your life?

It’s opened more doors for my future. I enjoy going to concerts, movie theaters, the beach, and other events. I’m a very social person, but I’m limited with my current chair and only go on the boardwalk and pier at the beach. I can’t go off-roading. Model M doesn’t give me that problem and I can take my dog on trails near my house even though they’re not wheelchair friendly, because Model M has features that allow it to move over rocks and branches. The battery lasts much longer than typical powered chairs, which is great for concerts or going back and forth between classes. Even if the battery dies, Model M can still be pushed when it’s unlocked. But I think the biggest impact is that Model M gives me more independence.

Note: Zackery had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.