Medford, Ore. — A year and a half after his ALS diagnosis, Medford man David Hartrick has passed away. His battle sparked an organization known as David’s Chair. With the help of dedicated friends and family, David will help people enjoy the great outdoors, even years after he’s gone.
“It was very peaceful when he passed away,” Steve Furst said, CEO of David’s Chair.
The illness, most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was something Hartrick was familiar with.
“Being in the home care business, adult foster care, he’s taken care of an ALS patient brain injury, so he knows,” Furst said.
But Hartick’s diagnosis sparked something inside him.
“He looked at it as.. as um, not the end, but a new beginning,” Furst said. “A new venture.”
Realizing his time outside was limited, he began researching outdoor wheelchairs that allow the user to go where normal ones can’t.
“He looked to the future and said I want to use this chair, but I want others to be able to use this chair also,” Furst said.
It was from that idea ‘David’s Chair’ was born. With the help of the community, the organization was able to purchase two action track chairs in less than a year.
“This chair’s been up in the snow, it’s been in Eastern Oregon elk hunting this year, and we have some plans to get a trip to the coast and allow some people out there to get on the beach,” Furst said.
For Casey Moore, who’s been paralyzed for nearly 20 years, the organization helped him take a giant step that he’d been working toward for more than a decade.
“I got to get out in the snow for the first time in a long time, and that’s when I stood up for the first time in 15 years, and it was just an amazing experience,” Moore said.
It’s stories like these that keep the all volunteer David’s Chair team going during this difficult time.
“It’s pretty powerful stuff, so when you look at it, it’s amazing that a man who knew his fate, and he knew that he didn’t have much time on earth, turned his focus to other people and other individuals,” Furst said.
While Hartrick didn’t get to enjoy the chair for as long as everyone had hoped, his friends and family rest easier knowing his compassionate and adventurous spirit live on every time David’s Chair helps someone else achieve their dreams.
If you would like to pay your respects, a public memorial for Hartrick will be held on Saturday, January 27th. The service begins at 1 pm at the Church of Christ in Medford.
David’s Chair is run completely by volunteers, and relies on donations to cover operating costs. The organization is hoping to add two to four new chairs this year. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit davidschair.org.