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Motorized wheelchair helps mobility challenged golfers

Breid Fischer, of Cold Spring Harbor, uses a

Breid Fischer, of Cold Spring Harbor, uses a motorized chair to play golf at Crab Meadow Golf Course in Northport, on Friday, May 5, 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A motorized wheelchair that helps people with mobility challenges stand up and participate in sporting, artistic and other daily events is now available in the Town of Huntington.

The Stand Up and Play Foundation, a California-based nonprofit, partnered with its local chapter to raise money to get the Paramobile to the town. It will be located at Crab Meadow Golf Course in Northport, and will be available for use on the course.

It is the first of its kind to be made available on a public course in the state, foundation officials said.

Anthony Netto, founder of Stand Up and Play Foundation and the inventor of the chair, said the apparatus is instrumental in helping those with mobility issues have therapy and also participate in activities.

“It’s for standing therapy,” Netto said. “The Paramobile is good for children to adults and helps them get therapy and avoid some of the issues associated with other therapy, such as pressure sores and things, and lets them have fun.”

Cold Spring Harbor resident Breid Fischer helped form the Huntington chapter of the foundation and organized a fundraiser last year to get the motorized wheelchair in Huntington. Fischer had always been active in golf and other outdoor activities, but through a series of circumstances became mobility impaired.

“It gives me the ability to go out again and play golf,” Fischer said. “Just being able to play with my family, it gives you such a freedom.”

Netto said he started working on creating the Paramobile about 15 years ago, and around 2006 the current model was created. He said he is still tinkering with it. The Paramobile costs $31,000, but through the foundation, it can be purchased for about $22,000, Netto said.

The fundraiser brought in $10,500, with a $12,000 grant through the foundation providing the remainder, Fischer said.

A local Boy Scout has been raising money to construct a storage shed for the Paramobile as part of his Eagle Scout project.

A South African native, Netto said he was injured in the 1990s, first while in the armed forces and later after being in a car accident.

“The Paramobile has saved my life,” Netto said.

Town Board member Mark Cuthbertson said he and his family love to play golf and can’t imagine not being able to participate, so he appreciates what the Paramobile has to offer.

“What’s inspiring is that people who were athletic or golfers before, can now continue to play the game with the help of this device, and that’s just terrific,” Cuthbertson said.

Netto said he hopes Huntington will get a second Paramobile.

“We have chapters across the country and we go into communities to help raise money to get the chairs in those communities,” Netto said. “We’re happy to come back to Huntington.”

Fischer said eventually there will be a second fundraiser, although no date is set.

“We would love to have a second Paramobile,” Fischer said. “It would be great if two mobility-challenged people could go out and play together, but we need to get the word out to raise funds.”

Use of the Paramobile at the Crab Meadow Golf Course is free. Greens fees do apply.

For more information, call the pro shop at 631-757-8800.

For more information on the foundation, visit standupandplayfoundation.org

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