Local Teen Receives the Gift of Freedom
Ohio man donates special wheelchairs to make getting out into the world a little easier for Tucker Teen
By: Ellis Boury III
Sometimes the simple kindness of one person can make a huge difference in the life of another. Thomas resident Evan Fridley has a new lease on life thanks to the generosity of one man who heard of his struggles with mobility and donated equipment that will help to give him more freedom.
Evan is a fifteen year-old sophomore attending Tucker County High School. He was diagnosed at birth with Spina Bifida, which makes getting around tough, particularly in the highland terrain that surrounds his home. He lives with his mother, Donna Plum outside of Thomas, and also spends weekends with his father and longtime hunting partner Casey Fridley. Hunting and spending time outdoors is one of Evan’s most enjoyed pastimes, and for years his father has carried him on his back into the forests where his wheelchair could not follow. However, as he has gotten older, it has become more difficult for him to access the areas he loves to spend time in and to take part in the activities that he enjoys so much.
Recently, the family was put into contact with an Ohio man who was planning to sell two powered wheelchairs that he had originally acquired for himself. Carlton Reed, of Piqua, Ohio, is a disabled Vietnam veteran who understands the difficulties Evan faces in getting around. Reed is originally from Davis, and still has family in the area. He met the Fridley family through Davis mayor Joe Drenning, who was aware of Evan’s situation through knowing his father Casey. Drenning knew Reed from his years spent in Davis, and helped to get him in touch with the family this summer.
As a hunter and outdoorsman himself, Reed felt for young Evan’s longing to have more mobility in the rough, outdoor landscape. Much of the area around the Fridley family’s homes is made up of terrain that can’t be crossed effectively in a normal manual wheelchair. The two power wheelchairs that Reed had bought -originally for his own use- were designed for getting around on surfaces that a standard chair cannot access. One is a slimmer model for more everyday terrain and the other is a larger all-terrain model with oversize tires and other features that make it more stable and thus suitable for outdoor use. After speaking with the family and coming to realize how much it would mean to Evan to have the additional freedom to get out and about, he decided to donate both chairs to the young man, along with a lift to get them loaded up into the bed of the family’s truck.
This is a dream come true for Evan, whose mother Donna expressed how difficult it has been to get equipment that can accommodate the activities her son enjoys. Mr. Reed stated that he was happier giving the chairs to Evan than he would have been selling them; he can relate to the issues facing anyone handicapped who also likes to spend time outdoors. Over the years, Reed has donated to a number of causes and individuals in need, including St. Jude’s Hospital. He has a particular fondness for children, and understands how difficult it can be for a young person to be able to follow their dreams when they are limited in their mobility.
In August, Reed loaded up his chairs and made the trip back to the area of his birth to pass them along to Evan and his family. In the time the two of them spent together, he saw that they shared the same passion and excitement for the outdoors, and particularly for hunting and fishing. Evan has been a hunter all his young life, having traveled with his family all over the country to hunt various game. In fact, his mother said that he had pretty much “been in the woods since he was born.” Getting out into nature to spend time with his father and to develop his skills as a hunter has been a huge part of his life. It is obvious after talking to him for even a few moments that this is one of his greatest passions. His favorite animal to hunt is deer, and he has taken part in some pretty impressive hunting trips over the years, including stalking -and bagging- the elusive red stag while staying on a ranch in Michigan.
Mr. Reed has also hunted wild game throughout his life and was happy to play a part in helping this young man do what he loves to do. He too was born and raised in a culture that honors outdoor sporting activities and wanted to do what he could to give Evan the opportunity to take charge in his life and have more personal freedom. The value that Evan will get out of having this equipment more than makes up for the value of the chairs themselves. His generosity will allow a young man to benefit for years to come.
Now, with fall just beginning, and various game hunting seasons fast approaching, Evan is ready to get out and put his new equipment to the ultimate test. His favorite season is just kicking off, and with his all-terrain chair he looks forward to getting back into the woods to do what he loves best.