Five years ago, Ty Kachanuk was a 24-year-old working father of two young girls who drove a sports car, rode motocross, and played recreational sports. That all changed Christmas Eve, 2007, when he was injured in a motorcycle accident that resulted in T3-T4 paraplegia.
Ty relied on a loaner wheelchair for a few weeks in the hospital, and was then put into a universal chair, designed for low to moderate activity and to be pushed around by others. As Ty adjusted to living with an SCI, his level of activity increased, as did his independence. Over time, Ty’s body shape changed and the chair no longer supported him like it should. He also struggled with the limitations of the chair, such as fitting through doorways and the inability to maneuver curbs. At four years post-injury and now a single father to three daughters, Ty realized his chair was holding him back from living the life he wanted.
When Ty inquired with his insurance about getting a new chair, he was told he had to be in the chair for five full years before he was even eligible for a new one. He applied twice for two different grants through national organizations, and was denied all four times.
Through his involvement in The Barrow Connection, a mentoring program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, he had met Will2Walk President Rich Hamill. At a Will2Walk Spring Training game event in March, Rich shared information with Ty on the new Life Enhancement Grant Program. After submitting a lengthy grant application, Ty was approved for a $5,000 grant and received his new TiLite Titanium wheelchair on June 19, 2012.
Shortly after, Ty traveled to Indianapolis for the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field trials. “I was able to wheel my new chair right down the main aisle of the airplane,” remembers Ty. “I’ve never been able to do that before!”
At the trials, Ty took second place and earned a silver medal in shot put, discus, and javelin. Only first-place participants went on to compete in London, but Ty already has his sights set on the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France; the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada; and the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Besides the events he earned medals in, Ty has also raced track for three years now through Arizona Disabled Sports (ADS). “I do it because it’s fun to get out there and compete against those who are in the same position I am. We really push each other to that next level.”
Ty works part-time for his father building and restoring hot rods and collector cars. He is actively seeking a full-time job, but his ultimate goal is to be an entrepreneur. His focus: wheelchairs and sport bikes.
“I would love to be able to design and manufacture a wheelchair that is more affordable. We rely on them for our everyday living, yet a lot of us struggle to put together the funds to buy one outright,” notes Ty. “And then if we want to participate in a sport to stay active, we can’t just go to Walmart and buy a bike. My handcycle cost almost $5,000, and I would need a different type for every sport. This is an issue I would like to eliminate.”
Overall, Ty has seen a huge difference in his daily life because of his new chair. It is half the weight of his old chair, and he can maneuver much easier at work, home and in public places.
“My chair is amazing and such a great gift,” concludes Ty. “I am blessed to have learned of Will2Walk.”
To support the Life Enhancement Grant Program and help others like Ty, please consider donating to Will2Walk. Or join us for our 4th Annual Golf Tournament at the Orange Tree Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 8. All proceeds go to the Grant Program.