Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.
For all his 36 years, Sam Durst, of Springville, has been unable to use his legs and arms, and has been confined to a wheelchair since he was three because of cerebral palsy.
For Sam that often means not being able to go and do things with family and friends that he would dearly love to do. For his family, that means they haven’t done all the things they would like to outdoors.
“Our family has always loved being outdoors and exploring,” said Christine Durst, Sam’s mother. “When Sam was little, his dad Roger would put him in a backpack to carry him around. But when Sam got older and bigger, it became more limiting in our outdoor adventuring as a family.”
Now thanks to Extreme Motus Off-Road Wheelchairs, made in Orem, Sam is going and doing things he never dreamed of.
Ryan Grassley, a longtime friend of Sam’s, introduced the family to the off-roading wheelchairs, and he has been able to be a part of some great adventures with the Dursts.
“I knew the Dursts to be outdoors type of people,” Grassley said. “These wheelchairs are built right in Orem and they didn’t know it.”
After seeing and using the wheelchairs for Sam, Grassley was so impressed he went to work for Extreme Motus.
Extreme Motus, a full-running wheelchair manufacturing business, was started by three friends, Adam Beasley, Todd Loader and Dale Pitts on July 24, 2018. However, the first wheelchair prototype was built about 18 years ago.
According to Pitts, a tree fell over in a local Provo park. It paralyzed Emma Sorensen, but it killed her grandmother and cousin.
Pitts was on the Provo Fire and Rescue crew at the time and knew the story.
“The first chair style was built 18 years ago for mountain climbing,” Pitts said. “It was made so this little girl could go to the top of Timpanogos.”
Since that time, there have been a number of tweaks and styles added to the Extreme Motus wheelchair line with the premier wheelchair being the Emma X3.
The leather seats are most often formed like crash car seats that are built up on the side for extra protection. There are a variety of ways to be belted in, and the length can be somewhat adjusted.
The seats can be customized with a logo or artwork. The Emma X3 costs about $3,495 and can be rented for about $50 a day.
“In the world of medical equipment, it’s a deal,” Pitts said.
Additionally, the handle bars offer hand breaks and some models are battery operated to help give extra power to the one pushing the wheelchair when needed, like over rocks, gravel, sand and up mountains.
“Sam loves adventuring along with the rest of us and has been downhill skiing through National Abilities in Park City for over 22 years,” Christine said. “Our oldest Son Nick designed and built a one track chair to take Sam hiking, but it had limits on its use.”
Christine said she and Roger were excited to discover the Emma X3 from Extreme Motus as another way to get Sam exploring new places only dreamed of.
“This backcountry wheelchair goes on sand, snow and floats in the water,” Christine Durst said. “Hiking, no problem, mud, no worries, snow, no big deal, soaking up sand and surf, amazing.”
Sam runs and bikes with friends and family in a special trailer engineered by a BYU Capstone program. So, the Dursts openly look for opportunities and ways to help Sam enjoy the world around him.
The Extreme Motus Emma X3 Off-road Wheelchair gives Sam the opportunity for high adventure.
The Emma X3 — named after Emma Sorensen who it was first made for — has three rubber wheels, is made from stainless steel and aluminum and is light and easy to push.
“When we took Sam to Arches National Park in Utah this fall, we were a bit skeptical that this could be a realized dream for the whole family, yet we did it.” Christine said. “How amazing to be at the top of Delicate Arch with others cheering as we crested the summit and felt the thrill of achievement through helping hands and a device that made it so possible for that amazing moment. A very big deal to the Durst family.”
“We couldn’t take him on sand,” Roger said. “Now we can go. It’s such a riot.”
Roger said there are lots of beaches and sand in their coming trips.
“I have run and biked with Sam. He’s been in 10Ks and 5Ks, and the Freedom Festival Freedom Run,” Roger said.
Christine added, “If we can do this, anyone can.”
With a great smile Sam said, “I’ve been bounced in that chair.”
Pitts said one of the reasons it’s a good fit for people like Sam is the tires absorb the rocky bumps like their own shock absorbers. And it can hold just about any weight.
“We’ll make something if there is someone with special needs,” Pitts said. “We built a chair for BYU football players.”
Pitts said Extreme Motus recently helped a man with multiple sclerosis who wanted to go deer hunting.
“He got his deer right from the chair,” Pitts said.
Christine said they were planning on going snowshoeing since the chair goes through snow.
The Dursts said planning a vacation for the whole family added extra layers when dealing with Sam’s needs.
“You’re always thinking there is this other thing you have to plan,” Roger said. “The wheelchair makes that planning easier. It’s another step in exploring new places.”
Grassley took Sam on this fall’s Dirty Dash 5K and they were waist-deep in mud but the wheelchair came out the other side in good shape.
Pitts said they also developed a wheelchair for the July 24th Temple to Temple run in Provo.
For those interested is seeing or trying out a wheelchair, visit https://extrememotus.com or call (801) 425-6534.