Jean Snyder, a 62-year-old medical transcriptionist from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was never much of an outdoors woman, let alone a hiker, but that all changed in the beginning of April when she went on a trip with daughter Michelle and her family to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. "The day my daughter planned to go hiking, I thought I was just going to hang out in the hotel room or go shopping, but boy was I wrong," said Jean. To her surprise, she completed a 2.6 mile hike of the Smoky Mountains in her Jazzy Power Chair.
Two paved trails to the side of the main trail, used mostly for strollers and wheelchairs, made it possible for Jean to successfully complete the hike. "It was my first time ever doing something like this. No way would I have gone up and down a mountain in a manual wheelchair," Jean said. "The weather was perfect and the waterfalls, when we reached the top, were gorgeous. I never would have attempted this without my Jazzy, and now I love nature!"
Throughout the duration of the hike, Jean was also very impressed with the battery life of her Jazzy. "After we finished the hike, my battery still had one green light left, and when I plugged it in back at the hotel before we went for dinner, it didn't take long at all to charge up," said Jean.
Jean started using a manual wheelchair six years ago, but after three years, she began having a lot of pain in her hands and shoulders. The pain in her hands worsened from her Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Jean was informed she would need surgery to reduce the pain in order to be independent again in her manual chair. Jean relies greatly on her hands as a medical transcriptionist, and after previous surgeries on her back, Jean knew she needed another option. "My Jazzy saved me from another surgery, and my hands don't bother me anymore. It has been a godsend and I appreciate it so much," Jean said. "I have gained so much independence, mental freedom and peace of mind."
Jean has served as a long time member of the United Methodist Women's group and her church choir. Her Jazzy has permitted her to remain actively involved in activities at her church, which is important to Jean since that's where many of her friends are. "My friends at church love my chair. The men joke around and say they are going to put chains on the back of it to pull cars out of ditches," laughed Jean. "Also, since my church built a wheelchair accessible ramp to the side of the altar, it is easier for me to get up there when I sing in the choir."
When Jean is not busy with her church activities, she also enjoys crocheting, reading, listening to music and watching television.
With the assistance of the Fort Wayne CitiLink City Bus, a bus service available for people who use wheelchairs, Jean can take the bus almost anywhere she needs to go. The bus has a ramp on it that lets her get on and off simply. "I can go pretty much anywhere easily, like my doctors' appointments, the park and the local shopping centers," Jean stated.
Jean feels especially fortunate to have her power chair since her husband passed away a year ago. "I can do tasks around the house in my Jazzy that I was unable to do in my manual chair, like my laundry and taking out the trash. I can't imagine being in my manual chair and living alone."
Another very fond memory Jean has of her Jazzy, is the opportunity it gave her to dance with her grandson, Ben, at his wedding, "We went around and around in a circle, dancing," Jean recalled. "It was awesome."
It is quite clear Jean's Jazzy has made a positive impact on her life, and she has been enjoying every second of it. From being independent around the house, to letting her dance with her grandson, and finally, taking her to the top of the Great Smoky Mountains, Jean has stopped at nothing. "I am definitely looking forward to more sightseeing trips now that I enjoy the outdoors and climbed a mountain," said Jean. Jean has truly taken her life to new heights she never thought were possible.