We first met Darren at the annual RDA, National Competition, where we have the pleasure of exhibiting a range of Trekinetic Powered GTE and Manual K2 wheelchairs.
Darren placed his order for a Powered GTE then and there, and benefited from the show offer of a free Safari (tool & kit) bag. Being determined and bold, he approached Joanna Jensen, CEO of Child’s Farm who, together with Wiltshire Farm Foods, helped him raise the balance of the money he needed.
Like so many young people with a disability, Darren craved his freedom and independence. What we had not appreciated until we delivered the chair, and Stephen, Darren’s dad, explained, was exactly how much independence he had lost.
As a teenager, Darren was, like many, very sporty and competitive. However, unlike many, Darren had his heart set on playing football professionally.
For years as he ran around the pitch, he couldn’t understand why his body hurt so much, and then sadly 7 years ago, Darren was finally diagnosed with Friedreichs Ataxia, which causes progressive damage to the nervous system, and affects muscle control and coordination. Darren’s world came crashing down.
He lost his confidence, suffered from anxiety and was at times, quite agoraphobic. Then someone suggested Riding For The Disabled.
Initially, lacking in core strength, Darren had a leader and 2 side helpers. However, the riding helped him with his physical strength and slowly he became able to ride unaided. His competitive spirit returned, and he realised how resilient he truly is. Stephen acknowledged that whilst he prayed riding would help Darren physically, he had not appreciated what it could do for his mental health.
So inspirational is Darren’s journey, that last year, he won the RDA’s Rider Of The Year.
‘When you’re on a horse you’re the same as everyone else’ said Darren. Of course, being around horses means being able to access muddy, rutted fields, sandy menages and being able to manoeuvre in and out of stables, all of which the Trekinetic enables Darren to do.
Darren has found freedom in the saddle, and now with his Trekinetic Powered GTE, he’s able to go take himself off to the cinema, shopping, out to meet up with friends.
On a cruise in the summer, Darren was able to navigate his way around the ship, thanks to the brilliant engineering that enables the 3 wheeled Trekinetic to turn 360° on its axis. Darren however was not impressed that every time he was in a lift, somebody would say ‘wow that’s a cool wheelchair’. We suggested maybe Darren might wear a T-shirt saying “I know my wheelchair is cool!” Clearly there is a thing as too much attention!
So, with Caellyn providing the horsepower and the Trekinetic the ‘battery’ power, Darren can finally achieve his independence.
We wish Darren and Caellyn all the best of luck in their future competitions, and hope one day, we’ll see him in the para dressage team.
Pictures and article from Your Horse Magazine.