More MS news articles for May 1999

Beach buggy thrills MS patient

Published Monday, May 17, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News

SANTA BARBARA -- It had been two decades since Rodrianne Croisdale dipped her toes in the ocean.

"I used to walk on the beach all the time," said Croisdale, 48, who has multiple sclerosis.

She uses a wheelchair and sidewalk scooter to get around. From a beachfront office, she advises the city on issues affecting disabled people.

"I look out these windows, and I see people walking up and down the beach all the time, and I'm terribly jealous," Croisdale said.

But her envy ended last week, when Croisdale crossed the sand and splashed in the sea while seated in one of two all-terrain wheelchairs recently bought by the city of Santa Barbara's recreation department. The splashy green chairs with their giant, green, doughnut-shaped tires are wider, lighter and lower to the ground than typical wheelchairs. They are being loaned for free to the city's 3,000 disabled residents, seniors and others who have trouble trekking across the sand.

"For the last 20 years, I've been wishing that I could get down by the water," Croisdale said, "but there's no way unless my brother would carry me, and that's not really the way I'd want to arrive."

Now she can arrive in style. The chairs cost $2,500 each and were purchased from a New Jersey company called Natural Access, which manufactures various recreational vehicles for people with
disabilities. The city used grant money to buy the chairs.

The beach buggies are constructed of waterproof nylon and stainless steel so they can be safely wheeled through the small waves that lap at the shore. The leg rest can even be brought up parallel to the ground, like a lounge chair, so sun-worshiping passengers can put their feet up and catch some rays.

"I had a ball," Croisdale said, moments after her first ride through the shallow surf. "A wave actually had the nerve to come up and get me good."