Paralyzed vet gets all-terrain chair complete with gun rack

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by Matt Standal

NWCN.com

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 9:05 AM

BOISE -- Andrew Pike was busy practicing a task many take for granted Wednesday at the Idaho Statehouse.

The 28-year-old wounded Army vet was standing upright with the help of a motorized wheelchair he'd just been gifted by volunteers.

Pike was elated, and a bit light-headed from the rush of blood to his legs.

His new, all-terrain machine includes a rubberized track system, hand-held controls, flashlight, and camouflage seating.

It also comes complete with a gun rack.

The gift will allow the Twin Falls-native the freedom and ability to move under his own power off-road, to stand and shoot or cast a fishing pole upright in Idaho's outdoors.

Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter proudly introduced Pike to a waiting throng of TV reporters, legislators, and capitol staff who gathered for the special moment.

"I want you all to meet Andrew Pike," Otter announced to the crowd. "Andrew was injured 7 years ago in Iraq. He took a round from a Sniper."

In an interview, Pike explained just how that bullet affected him.

"The bullet entered in through the left abdomen, and it exited my back probably about a quarter inch off my spinal cord and column," Pike said.

The shock wave from the round destroyed the former Army paratrooper's spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Despite his injury, Pike said he never gave up his love for firearms, hunting, and fishing. He returned home from duty and managed to return to some of the activities, albeit in a limited way.

However, Pike's enjoyment for the outdoors was soon recognized by volunteers like Bill Potter who also recognized that he needed more mobility.

Potter spoke to the crowd on Wednesday, saying the idea of working to raise money for Pike's new track chair came when he was out of fishing with the 28-year-old during an adaptive recreation program sponsored by Higher Ground Sun Valley.

"... I said, 'What the heck, we're from Idaho! We can do this!' So we did," Potter told the crowd.

Pike's new chair was donated by Higher Ground Sun Valley and Project Healing Waters Flyfishing. The organizations teamed up with the Independence Fund to raise money for an all-terrain track chair.

Both groups then teamed up with Governor Otter to surprise Pike with the gift during a tour of the Statehouse.

For Pike, it was yet another life-changing experience.

He now hopes to use the chair to better access hunting and fishing spots around Idaho, and for recreational shooting.

"The only thing you can do is look to what's in the future, look to what you can do, and take those things and build on them, and if somebody says you can't, then find a way to do it," Pike told KTVB.

Interestingly, Pike is the Western Regional Salesman for Primary Weapons Systems in Boise. He told KTVB he'd undoubtedly use his chair's new gun rack to hold a PWS weapon.

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