My Boyfriend Is Full of Ideas to Help Fight Inaccessibility

Leah Leilani avatar

by Leah Leilani |

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When I first started my search for a possible partner in life, all I asked for was someone who’d love me and understand my rare condition, mitochondrial myopathy. I never imagined I’d find a person so determined to help me experience everything life had to offer. 

From the start of our relationship, my boyfriend has tried his best to combat the prevalent issue of accessibility, or rather, the lack thereof. His perseverance to make it possible for me to do the things I want has led him to invent a few apparatuses to ease my struggles in this inaccessible world. The most recent was made for the purpose of getting me down to the beach. 

Every wheelchair user who lives near the coast or travels there often is aware of the lack of accessibility at beaches. For those who are unaware of this widespread problem, I will explain the matter simply by saying that sand and wheels don’t mix well.

So, why doesn’t someone create a wheelchair that can roll through sand, you may ask? Well, those do exist for the small price of about $2,000. Most people who are disabled, including me, are too busy trying to pay off medical bills to shovel out that kind of money. 

My boyfriend’s mind works much like an engineer’s or scientist’s. He’s always trying to find the answer to a question or solve a problem. Knowing full well how much I love the beach and how much I longed to be close to the waves again, he proposed that we use two wooden boards interchangeably to keep my wheels from digging into the sand. 

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We scoured Home Depot’s enormous selection of pre-cut wood, looking for something that would be suitable for our plan. The process felt reminiscent of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Many of the cut boards were too big, too small, or too heavy. The 2-by-2 boards weren’t wide enough for my chair. We eventually settled for the 4-by-4 boards. 

At home, my boyfriend drilled two holes on one side of each board with a 1/2-inch drill bit. These holes would allow him to thread rope through, creating straps to help him move the boards through the sand. 

I sat in my wheelchair at the end of the concrete strand, bathing suit on and umbrella strapped onto the back of my wheelchair like a pack mule. My boyfriend laid down the first board and I cautiously rolled onto it. He then laid the second board right in front of me and directed my wheelchair forward onto it. So far so good. Over and over, we repeated these steps, moving slowly but steadily down the beach. After a while, I could see my boyfriend tiring. Several people offered a hand but he politely turned them down, determined to get me closer to the waves. 

Once we reached a satisfactory spot, I immediately got out of my wheelchair and buried my feet in the warm sand. Under the shade of the umbrella and sitting comfortably in a beach chair, we both smiled at each other, basking in our sweet success. 

When I pray at night to God I always make sure to thank him for the amazing people in my life. This act of love from my boyfriend has left me feeling like the richest woman in the world. Rich with love and blessings. 


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


Ralph Yaniz avatar

Ralph Yaniz

This is great. Love the ingenuity and we need society to start thinking like this!

Ryan Tilley avatar

Ryan Tilley

Hi Leah, awesome article! We are actually a startup in Australia that are working to solve the exact problem you described - wheelchair beach access! We have developed a tyre that can easily be fitted over the top of the normal wheelchair tyre and enables beach access making it much easier.
I would love to chat with you further about your experience and possibly send you a set to try out for us. We will have them ready for shipping by the end of the year.
If you're interested, you can see more about us here:

Leah Leilani avatar

Leah Leilani

Oh my gosh Ryan, thank you for contacting me. I am so thrilled that some has taken the initiative to invent a product like yours. Beach wheelchair are so expensive which makes me beyond happy to now know that you guys have found an alternative. I would be more than happy to work with you and try out your product!


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