Curtis Follman is A FREE MIND IN MOTION.
Although he received a spinal cord injury during his service with the Marine Corps in 1982, Curtis has remained active; teaching for 18 years, keeping up with his 7 children, and continuing his love for outdoor sports.
Over time, however, his injury has taken its toll. He suffers from Brown’s Sequard Syndrome a form of lateral paralysis that while leaving him ambulatory has incrementally robbed him of more and more mobility.
Curtis chose to leave teaching in 2005 and stay at home with his young daughter. “The reason I left teaching was because I really felt like I wasn’t doing a good job there and I wasn’t doing a good job at home because of my physical issues. So, obviously the one to go was my work. So, I became a stay at home dad.”
Curtis grew up in rural New York where he currently resides and has always loved spending time outdoors; hunting, fishing and trapping are some of the activities that have become increasingly difficult for him over the years. Requiring a great deal of effort to reach his destination and not leaving him with a lot of energy left to enjoy the activities he loves.
“I love the outdoors, I love to hunt, I love to fish. probably in the last 4 or 5 years it just got to the point where I couldn’t carry my gear, I couldn’t make it to the woods like I did before… it just was getting really complicated.”
It was by divine appointment, Curtis believes, that a friend invited him to attend the Rochester Airshow. While enjoying the show, Curtis was approached by a fellow veteran using a mobility device which he had received through The Independence Fund. The man shared some information with Curtis which lead him to apply for mobility assistance through The Independence Fund.
After reviewing the options available, Curtis chose the Zoom chair. He wanted something that could be quickly loaded in the truck and would keep pace with his children. “I’ve got 7 kids and three of them are still home, so I was looking for something that we could throw in the back of the truck and I’d be waiting for them, they’d no longer be waiting for dad.”
Curtis received his Zoom from The Independence Fund in December of 2014. One of his first outings with the Zoom was to take it ice fishing. He was able to tow two ice shanties out on the ice and had no trouble traversing through the snow. “I’d have never been able to walk that far, there’s no way… it does really good doughnuts on the ice too!”
Though he doesn’t use it every day, Curtis uses his Zoom to help do the things that he has loved doing his entire life. “The Zoom keeps me getting after the things I love to do, it’s been very valuable in that regard. In those seasons when I need to go further, faster, that machine does it for me.”
“The chair gets me over rough terrain, gets me over long distances, carries my gear for me. I added a PVC rack on the back. I can put a walking stick or fishing pole in there, I can put my rifle or bow across the back. I can tow trapping supplies. Last year I dragged a deer about ¾ of a mile back to the road. I’ve gone coyote hunting with my boys, turkey hunting, deer hunting… stuff that we haven’t done in quite a while together like we’ve been able to do this year.”
“The Zoom has been a game-changer for me. It enables me to do things that I have been losing the ability to do and regain some of the passion for things I love to do. I think I have hunted more this year than probably the last four years combined. It’s been a blast.”
Curtis hopes to help spread the word about The Independence Fund and Zoomability so that other veterans can benefit as well. “That’s the big thing with that chair and The Independence Fund… it’s been really awesome. I’m so grateful that that’s available to me. I just hope that other people will get the chance to take advantage of this great opportunity.”