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Local nonprofit donates all-terrain, custom, wheelchairs to veterans

By Chris Urso, Tampa Bay Times
CHRIS URSO | Times Chance Blaker poses for a photograph while sitting in a custom, all terrain wheelchair he built Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 at his workshop in Foley, Alabama. Blaker builds custom, motorized, all terrain wheelchairs for a St. Petersburg non-profit called Other Side of the Dunes. Eric Wooten, the founder of the non-profit, and Blaker met while in the Marines and reconnected years later. The organization has donated 11 wheelchairs to veterans and those who work with veterans and has plans to donate two more next year. Wooten says, â\u0088\u009A\u0092We want it to be something that it might not be able to heal your body but our idea is we are going to try to help heal the mind.â\u0088\u009A\u0093

Eric Wooten reconnected a few years ago with a buddy from the Marine Corps, and together, they’re creating an opportunity for disabled veterans to enjoy the beach. Wooten founded Other Side of the Dunes, a nonprofit based in St. Petersburg, and raises money to buy and donate custom-built, all-terrain wheelchairs. Chance Blaker, his old friend, builds them in Foley, Ala. So far, they’ve donated 11 chairs, which feature balloon tires that ride comfortably on sand. They plan to donate two more next year. Each time they give one away, Wooten said, he gets goosebumps, watching people enjoy a simple pleasure that they’d been cut off from. "We want it to be something that it might not be able to heal your body, but our idea is we are going to try to help heal the mind." -- Chris Urso, Times photographer

See video at http://www.tampabay.com/photos/