New wheelchair will allow Idaho veteran to hunt, fish

(TWIN FALLS) TIMES-NEWSJanuary 23, 2014 

All Andrew Pike needed to go pheasant hunting was a new set of wheels, preferably in camo.

He could move around the house just fine with his current wheelchair, but couldn’t really do much outside.

Now, after receiving a new track chair Wednesday — complete with a matching camouflage seat and frame — Pike will be able to enjoy Idaho’s outdoors on his own.

In 2007, Pike was shot in the back by a sniper while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq. The injury left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Recognizing his service and sacrifice, Gov. Butch Otter presented Pike with the specialized chair Wednesday at the Idaho Capitol.

Donations helped pay for the chair, which has all-terrain wheels, said Bill Potter, chairman of the Ketchum-based Higher Ground.

“This whole thing started two years ago when Andrew and I went fishing one afternoon in Hagerman,” Potter said. “I told Andrew, ‘If you make one small move, you might fall in, and I’m 70 years old, I’m not going to be able to get you out.’ ”

When Otter guided Pike to the garden level of the Capitol on Wednesday, he was met with a small crowd. Friends and family, including his parents, and plenty of lawmakers and staffers had gathered.

Moving into his new seat, Pike buckled in and began fiddling with the settings. He had tested out the chair before at a fundraising event in Sun Valley but never imagined he might get one.

“I’ve been able to hunt and fish off and on,” he said. “This will be my first chance to move around by myself.”

The wheelchair’s seat rises, allowing Pike to stand upright. It’s a perk that takes getting used to, he said.

“I feel kind of lightheaded,” he said, lowering the seat. “The blood flow is different.”

Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said helping more disabled veterans gain access is important.

“Continuing the heritage for hunters is a huge priority in Idaho,” he said. “This is what inspires me to do my job.”

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