Medford, Ore. — It’s been almost a year since Rogue Valley man David Hartrick was diagnosed with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Now with limited time left, he’s seeking help in purchasing an outdoor wheelchair for himself, and the community.
Hartrick has grown up in the great outdoors. A graduate of Eagle Point High School, he’s spent his life hunting and fishing in Southern Oregon. But lately, it’s been hard to even leave his house.
“Just putting socks on can wear me out,” Hartrick said.
He can no longer help patients at the care home he and his wife Mary Grace run out of their house.
“You’re caring for people that have like, AMS, ALS, Parkinson’s, head traumas, and those people are just wonderful to work with,” Hartrick said. “And ironically, I come down with ALS.”
Hartrick was diagnosed last summer. Since then, he’s been trying to spend as much time outside as he possibly can. But the terminal illness is slowing him, and his muscles down, more and more everyday.
“It’s like you’re starving for air, your mind and your heart are still pumping, you’re still aware of it, but your grasping for air and then eventually it’s like you’re drowning,” Hartrick said. “I think that was just the hardest on me.”
Rather than focus on the pain, Hartrick has his sight set on the Action Trackchair, an outdoor wheelchair that can tackle any terrain and activity. While he’s hoping to take it out a couple times himself, he also wants it for others.
“After I’m gone, there could be this program where, you know, it would keep being issued out to other folks to be able to use it,” Hartirck said. “Whether it’s for the day, for the week, if they want to out camping, or if they just want to go out to the ponds.”
Hartrick and his support group have already raised $4,000, but they need another $14,000 to make the purchase.
“I know I don’t have much longer here on earth, but to know that that program, that chair will be out there for other people… really means a lot to me,” Hartrick stated.
To help with funding, a community yard sale is taking place Saturday, May 6th in front of Food4Less in Medford. You can also make a donation on the Go Fund Me page.