Rented adaptive gear offers hope for those with mobility challenges
MOORHEAD-It was a summer day at the beach and for the first time ever, Jackie Bekkerus joined her family for a walk in the sand. "It felt like we were able to do something for the first time as a family.
MOORHEAD-It was a summer day at the beach and for the first time ever, Jackie Bekkerus joined her family for a walk in the sand.
"It felt like we were able to do something for the first time as a family. It was incredible," recalled Melissa Bekkerus, who is Jackie's mom and a big supporter of a recreational equipment rental program offered by HOPE Inc., a Moorhead-based nonprofit that assists families and individuals with special needs.
Just in time for summer, the rental program recently received an upgrade with new beach wheelchairs and other devices to aid those who have difficulty getting around on their own, said Adair Grommesh, HOPE's executive director.
Grommesh said the program is focused on children and young adults, who have priority when it comes to renting the equipment. However, Grommesh said the hardware is really for anyone with mobility challenges, and older clients will be accommodated when possible.
Hand cycles, tandem bikes, adaptive tricycles and beach wheelchairs are available for rent by the week. That time period may be extended if the equipment isn't requested by someone else.
Some of the equipment costs thousands of dollars, but for those renting it the fee is $10 a week, said Grommesh, who stressed that the devices are for anyone with mobility issues.
"You don't need to be in a wheelchair to use this equipment," she said. "We have lots of kids in our programs who can walk, or use a walker.
"When they're camping, it's difficult to walk with a walker," she added, stating that families or anyone wondering whether the devices will work for them should contact HOPE for an appointment.
Appointments are usually scheduled for between 6 and 7 p.m. Sundays. To set up a time, email Grommesh at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Melissa Bekkerus said she plans to rent another beach wheelchair for her daughter, who will be a senior next school year at Barnesville High School, for a planned outing this summer.
Bekkerus said they also use a jogging stroller provided by HOPE Inc., which helps her daughter get fresh air when they go for walks on the gravel roads near their rural home.
"It's hard to push a regular wheelchair on gravel," said Bekkerus, who added she is in love with HOPE Inc. "My daughter gets to do things I never thought she'd be able to do."
Grommesh said the equipment is also used by her son, Garrett.
The family's home in south Moorhead was featured in 2011 on the TV program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," with Garrett's disabilities addressed by special accommodations built into the house.
Today, Garrett spends several hours a day in school and is "slowly getting better," said his mother. She said she is moved to tears when she sees her son able to spend time outdoors with the help of the recreational equipment HOPE provides.
"You're not meant to be inside in the summer," she said.