WATERBORO, Maine (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Howe and Howe Technologies in Waterboro makes the only off road vehicle where you can use your wheel chair while driving. The Ripchair 3.0 and Mike Chasse is the proud owner of it's most recent model.
Mike Chasse traveled to Waterboro from his home in Presque Isle to pick up his new Ripchair. He put a deposit down on the off road vehicle one year ago. He saved as much as possible to make the purchase final, but when his home town heard what he was saving for they finished the job. The community raised around $28,000 so that Chasse could have his sense of adventure back.
"One of the things that was so liberating for me the first time I got in the rip chair, I looked over to a place I know I could have never gotten to and I just went over there," said Chasse.
Chasse has always loved spending time outdoors: biking, fishing, and skiing.
During a ski trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort in Utah with his family that all changed.
"Skiing off into the woods and I went to get back on the main trail and there was a real abrupt, like a real steep angle and my skis hit the side of the trail and stopped and my head just plunged into the ground," said Chasse.
He spent 100 days in the hospital and two years in physical therapy to try to adjust to life as a quadriplegic.The hardest part has been letting go of his outdoor sports., until now. Ripchair program manager at Howe and Howe Technologies, Daniel Rowe, has been working on Chasse's machine since he put his deposit down. It's the 45th model of the Ripchair 3.0 that Rowe has built with handicapped accessibility in mind.
"Feels good to make something that someone who's lost something, maybe this will help them get a little bit of that," said Rowe.
Chasse took his ability to ride a bike and ski the slopes for granted for 25 years. That won't happen again now that he has his Ripchair and ability to not just watch others have fun, but take part also.
"I haven't been able to like get out there and do a lot of the things that I've wanted to do, so instead of hanging out with my friends at the house on the back deck when they go mountain biking, I'll go mountain biking with them," said Chasse with a smile.