Veteran can enjoy beach again thanks to custom-built wheelchair
SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Even on the roughest days, the ocean calls to Rameish Haytasingh. For the retired Navy lieutenant commander, a trip to the beach has been nearly impossible.
"It used to be a part of my everyday life," he said. "The last time I did I was with a brother of mine and I had to slide on my butt all the way down.”
Haytasingh served 20 years with the Navy -- including three three tours of duty to Iraq and five to Afghanistan. He survived an IED blast, but when he returned home, he faced his toughest battle.
"My story is not unique. There are many brothers and sisters of mine that have the same suffering, different injuries," he said.
A surfing injury left him bound to a wheelchair. His beach trips quickly ended -- until now.
"He has shown again and again the tenacity, the fight, the dedication, the spirit to overcome adversity," said Tom Kilgannon.
Tom Kilgannon, the president of Freedom Alliance, presented a custom-built all-terrain wheelchair to Haytasingh on Friday. The chair allows Haytasingh to get back to his passion with his sons.
"This is such a blessing in my life and being able to continue doing what I love to do," he said.
Freedom Alliance has given out 30 of the custom chairs. They cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. But it allows wounded veterans to get their freedom back.
"This is where my kids love to be. They love to surf, canoe, kayak and surf in the ocean. I couldn't do that before," said Haytasingh.
A simple stroll along the sandy shoreline can no longer be taken for granted.
"This is a whole different rabbit hole I can go down now and I have opportunities to go with them wherever. And with this thing being so mobile and light, I can go anywhere and everywhere with it,” he added. “It means a lot.”
LINK: For more information on Freedom Alliance visit: https://freedomalliance.org/