Nonprofit brings tracked mobility chairs to Grays Harbor County 


“Living life on one’s own terms” is the foundation of David’s Chair, a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 that’s bringing beach trips to those whose physical conditions might not allow them to traverse easily on sand or other outdoors terrain.

Now the organization has come to Westport, where it’s helping residents and visitors to get closer to the glory of the beach in comfort.

“It’s important for us to give people the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. When we see people, it’s not just one person getting in a chair. It’s a family or spouse,” said Steve Furst, founder and CEO of the organization, who traveled up from Oregon to officially inaugurate the organization’s partnership with the city. “We got to put people on the beach that live here, that have never been on the sand.”

The organization began with David Hatrick, an avid outdoorsman who was diagnosed with ALS and sought to enjoy his remaining time close to nature, where he’d always been happiest, according to the nonprofit’s website.

“He knew his time was short,” Furst said. “He wanted to get out and have a great year out in nature.”

The solution was a mechanized chair; a mobility chair with treads, to handle the spectrum of natural terrain from beach jaunts to hunting trips.

“They’re real simple machines,” Furst said. “Batteries are the biggest thing.”

However, they’re not cheap, and they are a specialized bit of equipment, a little too unwieldy for the average person to afford or to keep around. Hatrick and Furst fundraised to buy a chair, to give Hatrick and others the freedom to get back out into nature, aiding failing legs with tracks of rubber and alloy.

“We kind of slowly grew it. We started doing excursions,” Furst said. “That’s what we’re here to do, give people help and independence.”

The nonprofit has gone from one chair to 20, spread out across the coast from Westport, now the furthest north location, to Northern California, with another location outside Houston. Chairs are free to use, Hatrick’s stipulation from the beginning.

“That was David’s thing from day one is it’s gonna be free,” Furst said. “The challenge moving forward is funding. As we grow we have to hire people. We’re fortunate that we’re finding great people to do this. And we’re finding great communities to help us do this.”

Westport connection

John Shaw of the Westport Historical Society helped bring the nonprofit together with the city.

“We came up with the idea of having locations we call fixed sites. It’s just finding people to partner with,” Furst said. “John Shaw was the driving force here.”

The partnership, where the city helps fund operations and the nonprofit takes care of everything else from scheduling to maintenance to replacements, is a good one, said Westport Councilor Troy Meyer.

“It was a no-brainer. This is a really good use of this money. I suspect we’ll end up getting another chair,” Meyer said. “We did use tourism money to help finance this initially. I believe it’ll bring in a lot of people.”

The weekend saw a small event as the nonprofit leadership came up to showcase the capability. Meyer said he had been powerfully affected, seeing people who had never been able to go to the beach before, now able to get out there with family members.

“It is almost impossible not to choke up,” Meyer said.

The chairs are currently stowed off of Ocean Avenue, within easy reach of the beach access, with plans to find a more convenient location, Meyer said.

“The whole goal is to have these everywhere so people can have some independence,” Furst said. “What we’re finding out is we’re bringing a lot of tourism for the places that we’re in. People with mobility challenges can now plan a vacation where they can get out on the beach.”

Some people have already used it several times since their introduction, Meyer said.

“So the city’s perspective is that we see it as a big benefit for visitors and residents of Grays Harbor,” Meyer said. “Personally I’m really surprised to see how many local people we were able to connect with.”

Booking the chair is free, and done online at the David’s Chair website at