Oceanside CA— In time for Christmas, Daniel Litzenberg, an Oceanside resident and veteran, received a life-changing gift through the generous donations of his fellow Americans from the non-profit organization, The Independence Fund.
The Independence Fund’s Mobility Program provides disabled veterans the chance to get back outside so they can enjoy the outdoors through a wide variety of devices that include all terrain wheelchairs and adaptive bicycles.
The all terrain devices allow the veterans to enjoy the outdoors as they once had. All terrain wheelchairs have been proven to be no match for surfaces such as sand, snow, gravel, and freshwater.
Daniel Litzenberg served in the Marine Corps from 1988 – 1992 and is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2006 which was later determined to have been service related. In 2007, Litzenberg became disabled by the progression of MS.
He and his wife of 20 years, Santosha, live in Oceanside where they are active in their local church and are raising their 14-year-old son. Daniel enjoys being active and participates in San Diego wheelchair tennis matches.
Since requiring the use of a wheelchair, however, he has missed many of the outdoor activities that he was used to. Litzenberg was drawn to his chosen field of Geology in large part because of the outdoor activity and the exploration of rock formations – something he is currently unable to do. Daniel and his family have always enjoyed spending time on the beach, but his wheelchair can not handle the sand.
Recently, Litzenberg was introduced to The Independence Fund by a fellow veteran. Daniel applied for a device and was approved. Given the option of several different devices, he chose the Zoom. “Once I saw what the Zoom could do, I thought, that’s the mobility device that I want!”, said Daniel.
Lisa and Diego Hurtado, Zoomability Ambassadors, along with their service dog, Mr. Rex, arrived in Los Angeles, from Miami, early in the morning then drove down to Oceanside to set Daniel up with his new device. Diego is also a veteran and the recipient of a Zoom through Independence Fund.
Diego said, “The Zoom is one of the world’s lightest, 176 lbs., and smallest electric all terrain vehicles made by a company called Zoomability, out of Sweden.”
Sporting all terrain tires, the chair has four-wheel drive, four-wheel disc brakes and can go from zero to 12.6 mph (max speed) in just over one and a half seconds. “The acceleration will pin you to the back of the seat.” explained Diego. “The burst of speed gives people that little surge of adrenaline that many of them miss when they are confined to a wheelchair.” added Lisa
The Zoom is equipped with head and tail lights along with cruise control. With several speeds and an approximate range of 25 miles, people can stroll along side the chair at a slow comfortable pace or a quicker pace for running.
Daniel is really looking forward to being able to join his family on the beach again and to getting back out on the trails that he enjoys so much. “I used to go on hikes… when I saw the Zoom and saw I could do that (again), that narrowed down the choice to Zoom for me because it seemed like it could do a lot more of the types of off-road activities that I was interested in as well as being able to do deep sand,” Litzenberg said.
While Daniel was learning how to operate the chair, Santosha commented “I’m loving that smile.” Diego replied “We call that the Zoom smile right there. That’s what we work for.”