Everything changed when La Paz County (Ariz.) Sheriff Liz Rocco was paralyzed in a horrific car crash in 1999. But her boyfriend, firefighter Brad Soden, was determined to “keep things as normal as possible after the accident.”
For their wedding, Brad fixed up a Harley-Davidson golf cart with hand controls for Liz. Then he converted a Honda Odyssey dune buggy. “But it was fossil fueled,” says Brad, “and noisy. If you took it on a trail, it’d scare off all the animals. I wanted to build something electric.”
“We were always very outdoorsy, so we tried to keep that up,” says Brad. “We were camping and basically we had a bunch of elk come through the campground. So I went to Liz and I said, ‘You’ve got see this!’ But her chair kept getting stuck. She started crying. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing my wife cry. So I said, ‘I’ve got to change this.’”
In 2005, he created the prototype of the Tank Chair: a dual-motor drive, tank-tread, all-terrain vehicle. The Tank Chair has since been through four iterations and is sold all over the world. “These things almost never break down,” says Brad. “If they do, I made them so that anyone with a toolbox can open it up and fix it.”
“It’s absolutely changed my life,” says Liz. “Our boys were playing football after the accident and other people in wheelchairs couldn’t cross the field. But I got to go up and sit right there next to my boys. When it started raining, there I was doing donuts in the mud and having fun!”
“The chairs aren’t only for the person in the chair,” says Brad. “It’s for the family. Because when you all have to pull a person in a chair out and make them the center of attention, that’s impacting everyone.”
The Tank Chair will change the life of a wheelchair-dependent person, giving them freedoms and comfort unknown in a traditional wheelchair. The Soden family has graciously donated a Tank Chair to be donated to a worthy former or current active duty law enforcement officer. See sidebar for details to nominate a deserving person—even yourself.
“A lot of people in wheelchairs give up on life,” says Liz. “They’re happy to sit on the couch and kill time. I want someone who wants to get out there and live. If it weren’t for my husband making this for me, I’d have been one of those people who gave up. This changes everything.”
For more information on the Tank Chair, visit www.tankchair.net.
Tank Chair GiveAway
A five-person panel—which will include 9/11 survivor Will Jimeno and Editor-in-Chief Dale Stockton—will review all nominations to choose the most deserving person to receive a Tank Chair or Speedster. Nominate a friend or yourself. Please provide the nominee’s name, contact information and a brief description of what makes the nominee so deserving. Send this to email@example.com. Deadline for nominations is May 20 at midnight.
The recipient must:
• Be a former or current active duty law enforcement officer;
• A U.S. resident; and
• Be willing to provide photos and be recognized in Law Officer, and TC Mobility marketing and public relations efforts.