LINCOLN COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) – The Lincoln County Sports Club has become one of the newest hosts for Access Ability Wisconsin. A host is an organization that maintains and houses the all-terrain wheelchairs for people in the community to use.
Access Ability Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that provides people with mobility issues equal access to enjoying the outdoors. Its goal is to get an all-terrain wheelchair in every county in Wisconsin. And, in the counties the organization already serves, the chair is getting more and more popular.
“In the counties that we serve, they’re extremely popular, particularly during hunting season. And main bird watching season, we have a waitlist,” president and founding member of Access Ability Wisconsin, Monica Spaeni said.
The Lincoln County Sports Club now has one of AAW’s 23 wheelchairs and trailers throughout the state. The club’s president said this initiative matches both of the organization’s goals because the club is dedicated to conservation and introducing people to the outdoors.
“I was at a seminar and they had this chair at the seminar. I came back to the club and said, ‘look, this is something we need to do for our community.’ It helps people get out into the field, it’s what we do, we like being out in the outdoors,” president of the Lincoln County Sports Club, Mike Honerlaw said.
People who are interested in using the chair from the club have to make a reservation. There will then be a deposit of $50 collected but is reimbursed after the wheelchair is returned.
If people are interested in trying out the chair and seeing how it works, the Lincoln County Sports Club is holding an open house Saturday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people who are interested in trying out the chair and seeing how it works.
The club will serve people with mobility issues in Lincoln, Langlade and Marathon counties for the time being, but the overall goal is to get an outdoor wheelchair in all of the 72 counties in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, one woman in Marathon County is making it her goal to get a chair for the community. Joanne Borre made the decision to donate half of the cost of a trailer and chair, which is more than $22,000, and she did it in memory of her late husband Doug Borre who loved being outdoors.
“[Doug] did as much as he could outdoors. And we wanted to try and get that out to others so that they could enjoy the outdoors as much as he did. Specifically handicap, he had a special place in his heart for the handicapped,” she explained. “…And the outdoors can be such a relief for depression and anxiety. It can just give you some more independence, which is a goal that I have. I want them to be able to get out and be more independent and enjoy nature.”
There is still more work to be done to get a chair in Marathon County. Besides raising the rest of the money, there also needs to be a host.
“In some ways, it can be a little bit difficult to get hosts. But the goal is to get people like an Audubon Society or a sportsman’s club to see that having an outdoor wheelchair and trailer makes their programming automatically more inclusive. And that’s what people don’t understand. They think, oh, there’s this work to it. Well, in essence, what we’re doing is we’re kind of loaning you equipment to make your events in your county accessible and allowing people to check out the trailer and share so that their family and friends can visit popular places for their own private events in the county. So it’s increasing tourism. It’s increasing how hunting licenses. It’s increasing the availability for the public to work together,” Spaeni said.
Joanne said the trailer for the wheelchair for Marathon County will have a picture of Doug and ‘telling people to go cross that line’ because that’s what Doug liked to do.
“I just hope everybody sees the importance of this. For the future. I think a lot of people would really benefit from this. Not just the handicapped, but the families of the handicapped,” she said.
For people or organizations that are interested in becoming a host, click here to learn more of those details.
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