Nfld. & Labrador

Gander outdoorsman eyes all-terrain wheelchair, thanks to sister

Shae Batson wants to help her brother return to the outdoor life he loves. She's raising money for a special all-terrain wheelchair that will let him do that.

Shae Batson is raising money to help her injured brother enjoy the things he loves

Four years ago, Joshua Batson suffered a serious spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair. The avid outdoorsman still hunts and fishes, but it's challenging in a traditional wheelchair. (Shae Batson)

A Gander woman is raising money to help her older brother, who's paralyzed from the chest down, enjoy the outdoor activities he loves.

Joshua Batson fell off a balcony and suffered a major spinal cord injury just two weeks before he turned 19.

It would mean a lot for me to see him really happy.- Shae Batson

His sister, Shae Batson, says when the family got the news, she was in denial.

"I don't think any of us really realized the severity of it at first … well, me definitely," said Shae. "I figured with a little bit of rehabilitation he'd be fine."

"I don't think it quite hit me until I seen him myself."

A sister with a plan

That was four years ago, and since then Joshua has learned how to modify his active lifestyle to accommodate a traditional wheelchair. For the avid hunter and fisherman, it hasn't been an easy road.

"I've seen him at the cabin and the difficulties he's had trying to get around on gravel and sand and grass," said Shae. "He always had to have a friend dragging him through … but he's 23 years old and he wants to be independent."

Shae Batson and her brother are close, and she wants him to do the things he loves to do. (Shae Batson)

So, shortly before leaving home for her first semester at Memorial University in St. John's, she began a YouCaring fundraising campaign to raise money for a new wheelchair, and it's not your average one.

She has her sights set on an all-terrain model that looks like something out of an action movie, complete with attachments that can be customized.

"This wheelchair is actually all-terrain so he's able to go through mud and sand and water all by himself," said Shae. "He can get back at the things he loves doing."
This all-terrain wheelchair is made in Canada and lets users go off-road, with custom features, including holders for a gun and fishing rod. (Action Track Chair)

"You can get a fishing rod holder, a gun holder, a generator carrier, which would be awesome because then he would be able to help out more at the cabin."

The Action TrackChair also gives its user the ability to operate in a standing position, which helps ease muscle and digestive issues that can occur with prolonged sitting in traditional wheelchairs.

The cost is about $20,000 — with shipping and customizing extra.

No sibling rivalry here

Getting Joshua back into the woods with greater ease and independence is the driving force behind Shae's fundraising plans.

"I've always looked up to my brother," said Shae. "I've just wanted to make life as easy I could could on him … this will let him do whatever he wants to do with no need of any help."

Life changed for Joshua Batson when he fell off a balcony and damaged his spinal cord. He remains active, but fishing and hunting is challenging in a traditional wheelchair. (Shae Batson)

During her time in university, Shae won't be around her brother as much, she said, so getting him a new chair is her way of taking care of him even while she's away.

"He just means a lot to me, and anything that will help him daily will make his life much easier," said Shae. "It would mean a lot for me to see him really happy."