Chet Dyreson’s Journey After His Accident

Editor’s Note: 49 year old Chet Dyreson of Perris, California has always been involved in motocross–racing high performance motorcycles on off road terrain and going through obstacles that most people never attempt. This week you’ll read a story of a man who has refused to be limited by a tragic accident. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

I spent nine weeks in rehab at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehab Center in southern California. They immediately started me in activities, and once a week I had to go see a psychiatrist.  I explained to the psychiatrist that there was no point in being sad, and he continued to argue with me that I was in denial. I had to fight back a little bit and tell him that I knew I wouldn’t walk again, but that I intended to be happy and get on with my life. Since I had an agenda for the rest of my life, I didn’t go through depression. I didn’t have time for it. I had three children to raise, and I needed to get back to my home.

Chet Dyreson spent 9 weeks in rehab and was more than ready to go back to living a normal life. He did not suffer depression or sadness. He looked at his new life with optimism and enthusiasm. We all need to live life like this!

Chet Dyreson spent 9 weeks in rehab and was more than ready to go back to living a normal life. He did not suffer depression or sadness. He looked at his new life with optimism and enthusiasm. We all need to live life like this!

In rehab, I was taken to the grocery store in my chair. I was shown how to buy food, take it back to the rehab center, cook it and clean up. I learned how to live life in a wheelchair. I have to give the rehab center an A+ for everything they taught me. My children visited me twice a week. I had friends finish my contracting  jobs I started before my injury. I didn’t have any loose ends with my business. Since I’m such a micromanager of a contractor and like to make sure that even the smallest detail done correctly on a job site, I decided to close the doors on my contracting business.

Six months after my accident, I did market research for a contract supplier. Since I was a contractor, I was familiar with the equipment needed, as well as where to buy it with the best prices. I helped them become a company that was competitive in the marketplace. I worked at that job for a year and a half, but finally decided I really wasn’t an office kind of person. I really enjoyed being outside.

Spending life outside is much better than sitting in an office every day, according to Chet!

Spending life outside is much better than sitting in an office every day, according to Chet!

I decided to start a motorcycle parts and repair company. I still took my children to the motocross track every weekend, and I always carried spare parts in case of a bike malfunction. I had a large van to haul the motorcycles and extra parts. At the track, people were always asking me, “Do you have this part? Do you have that part?” I bought a vendor trailer, stocked it full of parts and traveled to all of the motocross races to sell parts and repair bikes. Most of the time when you’re repairing motorcycles, you’re sitting down anyway. The only time I needed help was when I had to remove a motor.

Unfortunately, the motorcycle industry took a big hit as the economy fell. I thought about building a gas powered wheelchair because it would be easier to travel around the motocross tracks. For the last three and a half years, I’ve been designing and building gas powered wheelchairs for off road use. I’ve mainly designed them for myself, so that I can go wherever a motocross bike does and make repairs in the field. I knew I needed a gas powered wheelchair with big tires to go off road so that I wouldn’t run out of battery life, which was a problem for electric powered wheelchairs. The bike needed to go through water, mud and all the different types of terrain that a motocross rider had to face. I built these because people in wheelchairs should be able to do all the same things as those who are able bodied. 

People in wheelchairs should be able to do the same things as those who are able bodied.

People in wheelchairs should be able to do the same things as those who are able bodied.

I got a 250cc Kawasaki engine that was designed and built for a John Deere ATV. Then I custom built a frame to hold the motor and used motorcycle wheels and tires. The other chair I built had the front wheels of an ATV and the back wheels of a motocross bike.  Everyone loved my gas powered wheelchairs. After I saw how much fun everyone had, I decided,  “Well, maybe I can build these things and sell them.”

I had to make these chairs safe, efficient, rugged and as foolproof. I also knew that anybody who bought one of these would have the same problem that I had – all of their buddies would want to ride and would try to beat it up to learn just what abuse it could take. My friends still use my ATV wheelchair more than I do. In 2010, I tested it on the highway and back roads traveling from southern California to Washington, D.C. in the hopes of bringing attention to the need for more money for spinal cord research.Of course, I also wanted to prove the value of an ATV wheelchair.

Chet wheeled for a cure for SCI from California to Washington DC in his gas powered wheelchair.

Chet wheeled for a cure for SCI from California to Washington DC in his gas powered wheelchair.

To contact Chet Dyreson, visit his webpage at http://wheelingtocuresci.org. You can email him at wheelchairmodz@yahoo.com.

Next: More On Chet Dyreson’s ATV Wheelchair

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

4 Responses to Chet Dyreson’s Journey After His Accident

  1. Judith Coburn-Harris says:

    If I were younger, financially able and not in a snow world—-I’d be begging to ask if I could try it!! Fab!! Judi

  2. Deborah Davis says:

    Great story, but the link to Chet’s website doesn’t work. Do you have to correct website? I’d love to see about getting one of these for myself!

  3. holly timpson says:

    In the last 2 or so years I’ve become disabled. You are an inspiration to me. Please tell me how you managed not to deal with depression I feel like it’s on my shoulder every day. Thanks Holly

  4. T Mae Carolan says:

    I’m a SCI (T12,) and am convinced the DISABLED DOES NOT MEAN UNABLED. We just have to figure out how to do it our way!

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