One wheelchair for one person was amazing, but we wanted everyone to experience the joy and mobility that our chairs offer.
In July of 2018, we had a unique opportunity to take a step in that direction.
Run On With An Outdoor Wheelchair
More than 10,000 people signed up to run in the Temple to Temple 5K in Provo, Utah. But among the thousands, five participants stood out.
Extreme Motus partnered with Run On, an organization that partners runners with individuals who need a little extra push to get across the finish line.
We equipped the five running pairs with our outdoor wheelchairs. The lightweight frame and all-terrain wheelchair wheels make it the perfect model for racing on streets, across parks, through water, and over any obstacle that stands in the way.
Run On’s founder, Mack Bawden, ran the race with his close friend, Cameron Judd. The two have been best friends since they were four years old. Cameron was born with cerebral palsy, but that hasn’t killed his spirit of adventure. He was more than ready to hit the streets with Mack in the Emma X3 all terrain manual wheelchair.
“Cameron told me all morning how comfortable [the chair] is. It’s just a lot smoother ride,” Mack said.
The 5K also served as a special reunion for our co-founder Dale Pitts and Emma, the girl who inspired it all.
Ride On volunteers arranged for Emma to hop into an outdoor wheelchair for the race and surprise Dale at the end of the course. The two crossed the finish line together 18 years after he arrived as a first responder at the scene of the accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.
“I think it’s awesome that Extreme Motus is building more chairs so that people can have the experiences that I’ve had. Anything is possible with the right people and the right tools behind you,” Emma said.
How one girl inspired us to redefine the wheelchair.
Hikers in search of a challenge need look no further than Mount Timpanogos.
Rising 5,269 feet above the Utah Valley elevation, it’s easy to see why “Timp” calls people to climb to its summit. Many try, and some fail. But it wasn’t the 14 miles of rugged trail through forest, waterfalls, rocky slopes, and ridges that kept Emma from the top.
The day Emma walked for the last time was much like any other. Her family had gathered for a birthday celebration in a nearby canyon park, part of a summertime family reunion. And then, the unthinkable happened. An 85-foot tall cottonwood tree fell (https://www.deseret.com/2000/8/7/19522447/4-year-old-girl-paralyzed-after-tree-accident).
There was no wind. No one chopped at the tree’s trunk. There was no reason to suspect that the towering poplar would come crashing down, but it did.
Emma and six of her extended family members were crushed beneath the tree. Her grandmother and cousin were killed, but 4-year-old Emma survived.
After 10 days in the ICU and three weeks in the hospital, Emma was sent home, but life was far from normal. The accident left the active little girl paralyzed from the waist down and facing an uncertain future.
Several years later, Emma sat in her elementary school classroom and listened to a biologist talk about bears.
The guest speaker explained that the scientists used special collars to track and monitor the bears in the wild. In the nearby mountains, they would periodically check in on their subjects.
The enthusiastic visitor invited any of the children in the class who wanted to see the bears to come with him on his next expedition. Emma raised her hand.
It wasn’t until class finished that the biologist realized Emma was in a wheelchair. He sought out a friend, the local fire department battalion chief for advice. The chief called Dale Pitts.
Dale was a member of the fire department. He was a handy and creative guy. He also happened to be the first responder who cared for Emma the day of her accident.
Dale designed a special chair to carry Emma through two miles of backcountry to see the bears. Together with his fellow firemen, he provided the muscle and the legwork that Emma needed.
On the way, Dale struck up a conversation with Emma’s father. He learned that her family climbed Mount Timpanogos every year. “I’d like to take Emma with us,” her father said, “but I don’t know if we can carry her the whole way.”
And Dale had an idea.
Redefining The Wheelchair
In order to get Emma to the top of Timp, she needed to be pushed or pulled, not carried. She needed a wheelchair — but a wheelchair nothing like the chair she used every day.
Dale turned to his lifelong friend Todd Loader, who owned and operated a local machine shop. Together they designed an all terrain manual wheelchair.
The chair was created to make maneuvering skinny trails possible. It featured a single all terrain wheelchair tire fit for traveling across dirt, rock, sand, and water, with space for two operators. One person would push, another would pull, and Emma would finally climb the mountain with her family.
That year, Emma reached the summit.
Inspired by Emma’s experience, Dale and Todd began to evolve their design. Extreme Motus was born.
Their original all terrain manual wheelchair went from one wheel to three, allowing it to be pushed by a single individual. They then partnered with local organizations to provide wheelchairs for local athletic events and outdoor experiences. This enabled individuals and families to participate in events together and go places that they were never able to go before.
The Extreme Motus Mission
Extreme Motus is dedicated to bringing Dale, Todd, and Emma’s passion to the world. We believe everyone should be able to participate in the activities that bring them joy — regardless of their physical abilities.
Today’s chair features a lightweight yet durable aluminum frame and all terrain wheelchair tires that provide cushion and suspension, making it ideal for everything from running a marathon to a day at the beach.