Brad Soden’s world was forever changed when his then-fiance got hurt in an auto accident, ending up paralyzed from the waist down. Instead of leaving her, he proposed instead, and starting crating new and unique wheelchairs so that Liz can regain some of the freedom she had before.
“We ended up walking away from it, but she ended up paralyzed,” he said, referring to the three sons from a prior relationship who were in the car. “Between the two of us, we have five kids. We are a very active family. We go camping a lot. After she got hurt, we tried with the wheelchair and to keep everything as normal as we could.”
His first prototype was a modified golf cart he created so that Liz could drive around and talk to their guests at the reception of their wedding in March, 2000. From there he built the Tank Chair, with half-track treads that allow it to move through sand or ice. He followed up with a new wheel chair called “The Speeder” that can carry Liz up to 30 milers per hour.
“Most of the time, when you are in a wheelchair, you are put someplace and people have to come to you,” Liz Soden said. “But with the golf cart, I was able to move around and see everyone. I wasn’t stuck in one place.”
The custom wheelchair also started attracting lots of attention whenever Liz would go out, with people stopping her to ask questions about what it is she is riding. That led the couple to start the Liz Soden Foundation in 2011, to provide Tank Chairs or Speedsters to paralyzed folks, as well as police officers, firefighters and soldiers injured in the line of duty. It cost’s an average of $7500 to produce each chair.