Donors, officials unveil Platte County's new track chair with eyes on more

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Donors and government officials pose for a photo during a ceremony held Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Parma Woods Shooting Range in rural Parkville, Mo. With fundraising and government grants, the specialized track chair seen in the foreground was purchased and donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation, which will house and rent out the unit to disabled residents of Platte County. PARKVILLE, Mo. — Don’t think the fundraising will stop just because the first specialized track wheelchair arrived at Parma Woods Shooting Range this week.

Those dedicated to providing opportunities for the disabled to experience the outdoors have big plans, even after coming up with the nearly $20,000 for the first unit and trailer donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Organizers, donors and government officials turned out Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Parma Woods in rural Parkville to celebrate the accomplishment, but with a trailer designed to hold four track chairs, they want to come up with more.

“We’re not satisfied with No. 1. We’re already looking at No. 2, 3 and 4,” said Cmdr. Spencer Hardin of Amvets Post 181 based out of Raymore, Mo. “We’re overachievers. That’s just what we are.”

Amvets and Platte City business owner Bo Woodruff headed up the effort to make this initial purchase. Eventually, partnerships with the City of Platte City and Platte County Parks and Recreation helped complete the process in about nine months. Woodruff and others started collecting donations late in 2014 and eventually received matching grants from the two governmental bodies.

The track chair will benefit those with disabilities in Platte County with plans to try and provide priority use for disabled veterans.

MDC now owns and operates 11 units, but most were previously housed in the eastern part of the state. Platte County residents with disabilities can now rent out the chair to provide access to hard-to-reach areas and outdoors activities. The chair comes equipped with a gun rack and fishing pole holder.

“What this vehicle is is the coolest library book you can have,” said Chris Wolfenbarger, board member of The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors (F.E.W.) — a veterans organization based out of Pryor, Okla.

The track chair consists of a high-quality racing seat on a base surrounded by a pair of triangular all-terrain tracks.

Woodruff and others took a borrowed model to area businesses and events during the fundraising process to show off the unit’s features. The purchased model includes camoflauge paint and seat cover to further show the outdoors capabilities.

The private fundraising helped start the process of purchasing the track chair for about $13,000 along with the trailer, which houses battery charging capabilities designed for the chairs, and the signage on the side for major donors: Amvets 181, MDC, F.E.W., City of Platte City, Platte County Parks and Recreation and Damien Gunn Music.

“With the right mission and attitude, you can turn a lot of maybes into yes we can,” Wolfenbarger said. Fundraising efforts will continue with hopes of purchasing the three additional track chairs, which will continue to run at about $13,000 apiece. Organizers hope to continue qualifying for grants to help in the process, which makes the government involvement much easier.

“We are so proud to be a part of it,” Platte County presiding commissioner Ron Schieber said. “We had the easy part. We really had the easy part.”