GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — With her mom’s hand locked with hers, Ericka Hunderman rides along the shoreline, soaking up the sun, while basking in a life-changing moment.
“This chair is like, like my adventure,” said Hunderman, a disabled teenager.
Hunderman was riding what’s called a Trackchair, one of two that will be available this summer at Grand Haven State Park. It gives disabled beach goers a way to navigate the lakeshore in ways a traditional wheelchair can’t.
“It’s really up moving for me,” said Hunderman. “I’m hopeful that this will help other people, too, with this now being here.”
Lori’s Voice, a local nonprofit that provides resources for disabled children up to 21 years old, donated the Trackchair to the state park. The organization’s founders said they wanted to do their part to make the beach accessible for everyone.
“When I see Ericka here at the beach, it just melts my heart,” said Lori Hastings, founder of Lori’s Voice. “You know, she’s a beautiful girl, and without this chair, she’d be stuck here in the parking lot.”
Anyone who rides the track chair will carry Liam Hirkaway’s spirit with them. His name is engraved on the side of it, honoring his death in February. Liam’s mother got emotional over the tribute.
“It’s so special,” said Andrea Hirkaway. “He was such an amazing boy, and to have other people enjoy something he would’ve loved, means so much to all of us.”
Grand Haven State Park workers said they anticipate giving each rider a two-hour time limit. They also said they are working on creating a website that users can visit to reserve and check the availability of the free-to-rent Trackchairs.
“This is going to be a good start to helping other kids get used to this,” said Hunderman.