Medford, Ore. — A Rogue Valley man battling ALS started a non-profit to help other who face disability. David Hartrick spent the first part of 2017 seeking community support to buy a special outdoor wheelchair to enjoy his favorite pastimes one last time. With the community’s help, he was able to do just that.
“We had over three-hundred people crammed into that Pavillion building at the Expo,” Hartrick said. “We had a poker tournament and an auction, and we were able to raise over $32,000 in just one night.”
Needless to say, Hartrick got his wish… and more.
“We were also able to but a youth size,” Hartrick said.
Just like that, his non-profit ‘David’s Chair’ was born. It all started last year, when Hartrick was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Instead of giving into the diagnosis, Hartrick jumped into action.
“I’ve run adult foster homes for years,” Hartrick said. “I’ve seen so many folks pass away so fast when they don’t have that spark.”
For Hartrick, that spark comes from the outdoors. But with his muscles quickly failing him, Hartrick needed the action track chair to hunt and fish this summer, possibly for the last time. With the help of the community, that wish has been granted.
“I really have to thank everyone for allowing me to see this dream come true, because it really was everyone,” Hartrick said.
Hartrick has taken the chairs all over Southern Oregon, even to the coast.
“I went out there, and the water splashed, and it just felt so good,” Hartrick said.
From the beginning, he said the project wasn’t just about him.
“The moment that I started focusing on the community and what we can do, it’s just like, my heart just opened up,” Hartrick said. “I thought, this is what I was meant to do.”
Hartrick, his wife Mary Grace, and their friends have started ‘David’s Chair,’ a non-profit, allowing anyone with a disability to take the chairs out for free. The only problem the organization is facing is a lack of takers.
“We have a lot of people who could really use these,” Hartrick said.
While Hartrick is still waiting to see others benefit from the community’s efforts, he’s happy just knowing the non-profit is up and running, with a bright future.
“This is going to continue after I’m gone, and that means a lot to me, to know that this, this isn’t just the end, this is just the beginning,” Hartrick said.
For more information on David’s Chair, click here.
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