Track Chair program coming to Florida allows the mobility-impaired to explore wilderness

A new one-of-a-kind program to help mobility impaired individuals experience nature trails is coming to Central Florida.

The Track Chair program is the first in the state and will be available at the Seminole State Forest.

Dalkin Gomez loves the outdoors and used to go for hikes before he suffered a spinal cord injury at work in 2018 that left him paralyzed from the chest down.  Now for the first time, he’s able to roam the trails at Seminole State Forest on a track chair.

"As soon as you get used to it, you’re like wow, I can’t believe this thing goes sideways and you’re still very comfortable and safe and everything," Gomez said. "It’s amazing. Just to see that it can go through things that I don’t think I could have done like such as roots from the tree, down hills in the dirt, uphill without even like working."

This was all made possible after three years of work by the Friends of Seminole State Forest nonprofit using $15,000 in donations to make this purchase.


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"This is the only track chair program in the state forest in the state of Florida," said George Koutsakis, Founder of Friends of Seminole State Forest.

There is no cost to taxpayers, the state or to people using the all-terrain chair. For riders with different levels of paralysis or mobility impairments, the chair also comes with a controller for another person to operate.

"The trails really don’t have to be modified at all," Koursakis said. "Because it is a track chair, it’s a wheelchair with bulldozer tracks. It can go over small obstacles up to 6 inches. Tree limbs, rocks, whatever, sand, water. It’s lithium battery operated, so there’s no damage to the environment. It’s a very soft footprint."

Starting March 3, anyone can make a free reservation to use the track chair for up to three hours on weekends. On Super Bowl Sunday at the annual Run for the Woods 5k, 12k, and half marathon, the Track Chair manufacturer will have more chairs available for participants to try out. 

The Friends of Seminole State Forest said they’re hoping to continue fundraising to purchase additional track chairs.

"As we acquire additional funds and as the public wants to have more chairs – if the demand is greater than what we have, we will certainly add more chairs until we have the right number," Koutsakis said. 

Gomez said being able to take this track chair out for a spin makes him feel more free.

"Just to see that I can actually do all of this, I’m like, yeah, that’s the fun all of that."