HATLEY – Hatley eighth-grader Ethan Dodd has been a hunting and fishing enthusiast since he was old enough to hold a rifle and a rod. The issue that limits him, however, is a rare muscular dystrophy, which he was diagnosed with at age 8. His mother, Rachel, said it’s so rare that it doesn’t have a category or a name.
To help him navigate the woods and streams when he’s on sporting expeditions with friends and family, he recently was blessed with an Action Trackchair to help get him places where a wheelchair can’t.
“We were able to borrow a trackchair from a ministry in West Point for Ethan to try out. That sold us on trying to get our own,” said his father David, a two-time cancer survivor.
The unique off-road wheelchair was created by a Minnesota businessman and outdoor enthusiast for his son who is disabled from a spinal cord injury suffered in a car accident. The chair has been on the market worldwide since 2009.
The $14,000 price for the chair presented a stiff challenge for the Dodds. Ethan suggested to his father that they could sell the turkey calls they make to raise funds toward the purchase of the chair. The Dodds are turkey hunting enthusiasts.
Ethan’s sister, Makenzie, set up a GoFundMe campaign that raised $6,000 in approximately three weeks. Additionally, friends, donors and businesses pitched in to help.
“A couple of donors provided over half of the $14,000 needed. We were getting help that ranged from neighboring counties all the way to Kentucky,” David said.
The momentum of interest to help Ethan continued to come, which helped the Dodds purchase an enclosed trailer for the trackchair as well.
Ethan is anticipating his next deer hunt in November using the trackchair. He has already harvested three deer – his latest being a nine-point buck. He got his first wild turkey using the borrowed trackchair.
“This experience has renewed our faith in the generosity of people,” David said.
The Dodds want to pay back the kindness of the West Point ministry that provided the trial-loan of the chair by offering Ethan’s chair for loan as well.
“If anyone knows of a veteran or handicapped person who would want to try it out, we’d like to loan ours out just the way we started,” David said.
Ethan is a lad of few words, but the smile on his face tells the story about how he appreciates the track chair and the generosity of all who helped to provide it for him.
At Hatley, he is part of the gifted program as well as percussionist with the band.