Disabled but - Not Defeated

Jul. 01, 2002 By Clint Schmucker

San Diego, Cal. -- Pulling off into the Buckman Springs rest stop from Interstate 8 in San Diego, California, I was a little concerned about this run.

Beneath cloudy skies, the Jeeps line up in preparation for depature.

A couple of weeks ago, I began discussing the idea that my Cherokee would be the ideal cruiser on the "Disability Run," which is a run setup for children with disabilities who have never had the opportunity to experience some of the backcountry that you and I are used to experiencing. Closed vehicles like the Cherokee are a great way to introduce passengers with disabilities who are not accustomed to the elements such as the heat, sun, or in our case, rain. For all of you that balk at "grocery getters" can say whatever you want as we sit in the air-conditioned comfort of my XJ.

Angela Cook's CJ-6 was among the most popular rigs of the day.

Angela Cook from San Diego's Geared for Fun Jeep Club set up the run to give disabled persons the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. This run represents a great cause of which many were honored to support.

My concern about the run began as I was about to finish loading my Jeep with supplies for the day. It began to rain. And for passengers who may not be too familiar with the outdoors or the back of my Jeep when things begin to get rough, it may be a little too much to handle the first time out.

Meanwhile, our co-pilots chose the vehicles they wanted to ride in.

Pulling into the parking lot that day, I realized that the rain was not going to stop our noble endeavor. In fact, it seemed that people were even more encouraged to tackle this obstacle, rain or no rain.

While the heavy mist showered down upon us, a variety of rigs flooded onto the scene. Some of the more rare vehicles to join us was Angela Cook's rare CJ-6, a Nissan X-Terra, a Nissan Pathfinder, a Jeep Liberty, an old Bronco and then the lone Toyota truck, which was later to receive some of its first trail damage when a log "jumped" out and bit its rear quarter panel.

There was some full-size iron on the trail as well. This J-10 crawls one of the worse sections of the day.

When all had gathered, we had our drivers meeting, and then headed out to the air down spot in Corral Canyon ORV Park. We disconnected our sway bars, aired down the tires and waited for further instruction. The neat thing about this run was that the disabled passengers could pick from the plethora of four-wheel drive vehicles to ride with. As we were paired up, we made room among the trail spares and tools to carry the wheel chairs and other items. It was an incredible site to see a trail-worthy TJ carrying a passenger with a smile gleaming ear-to-ear as the Jeep traversed a muddy hillside, with a wheelchair hanging out of the back.

It was tough to smile after her new Toyota took the hit, but she had fun nevertheless. Check out the damage in the photo gallery to the left.

About halfway through the Espinoza Loop trail, we stopped for lunch. The San Diego 4 Wheelers were gracious enough to prepare the lunch that was donated by the Tierra Del Sol Jeep Club. Thirty Volunteer drivers and nineteen guests enjoyed Subway-style sandwiches while enjoying the picturesque beauty of east San Diego.

Photo Gallery

The rest of the day was pure bliss for all involved, but I think Denny Grimes from The San Diego 4 Wheelers summarized our feelings of the day best, "With diminishing access to motorized trails on public lands, disabled citizens face loss of the only means they have to participate in outdoor activities of this type. It is important to keep the public, our government officials and managers, and our legislators aware of the need for access by disabled citizens and the provisions of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Motorized access allows these deserving citizens the opportunity to the great American forests, deserts and parklands."

Let's fight to keep the trails open!

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