IBOT PERSONAL MOBILITY DEVICE RECIPIENT
This is Michael's story in his words.
My name is Michael Hearn. I am 36 and live Canton, GA with my wife Ellen and our twin 4-year-old girls, Audrey and Caroline. I am a software developer.
In September of 2009 I was in a motorcycle accident in southern Alabama. Riding along side my parents and a family friend, I ran over a rough edge of the road on the interstate. To keep control and not drop the motorcycle, my path led off the shoulder and onto the grass median. As I was slowing my front wheel found a ditch running perpendicular to the interstate, which caught and immediately threw me forward. I did a partial flip landing on my upper back, resulting in a T4 spinal injury. I spent two weeks at a hospital in Dothan, AL for surgery, then several months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA for rehab.
In a single moment all my plans changed. My career at the time effectively was over. I would have to change how I approached interests and hobbies. How I interacted with the world, and my day-to-day schedule, would never be the same. My life changed forever, but it didn’t end.
I married my college sweetheart 2 years later. I taught myself programming languages and was able to completely alter my career path. And less than a decade later my wife and I had two wonderful baby girls.
Between work and family, free time is a rarity. But one thing I did prior to my accident that I still enjoy today is camping. I have preferred hammock camping over tents for a long time, and post injury have figured out how to make it adaptable to me. I’m not able to use just any set of trees now, but if I have a reasonably flat area of earth, I can still comfortably set my hammock system. And while I am not able get quite as far off the beaten path as I used to, there is little that beats sitting with friends and family around a campfire.
Two other interests of mine are music and reading. I play several instruments, mostly guitar and bass today, but do not have as much time to play with other people. To fill this creative void, I’ve started writing and am about halfway through my first book. A couple of my favorite fiction authors are Michael Crichton and Stephen King. My favorite non-fiction author is C.S. Lewis. “The Problem of Pain” was a very influential read after my accident.
Having an iBot is going to help around the house with my family, but also give me outdoor freedom I haven’t had in over a decade. Having access to things around the house will be a huge change for my sense of my independence, but the first thing I plan on doing is a hike and off site camping trip with my family.