Before the attack in Afghanistan last year that cost him both his legs and part of his right hand, Oswego Marine Kyle Moser enjoyed being in the great outdoors. And if North Aurora resident Gary Awalt is successful, Moser will be back hunting, fishing and hiking before too long.
Awalt, a special needs bus driver for School District 308, is friends with Moser and his family. And he thinks he’s found just the thing to get the 20-year-old Moser back into the outdoor life.
It’s called an Action Trackchair, and it’s billed as “the ultimate in off-road wheelchairs,” according to the company website. It’s able to cover virtually any terrain, thanks to an innovative design and seven-and-a-half-foot tank treads on either side.
It was designed by Tim Swenson of Minnesota, whose son Jeff is in a wheelchair, and was created to help disabled people enjoy the freedom of hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities, according to the website.
Awalt saw the Trackchair at an outdoor expo event, and immediately thought of Moser, he said. And when Moser and his father joined him to check out the chair, and Kyle took a ride in it, the impact was immediate, Awalt said.
“He had a ball,” Awalt said. “He had a smile on his face that wouldn’t quit.”
So Awalt has been trying since then to raise money to buy one of the chairs for Moser. It will cost about $11,800 – a discounted price, but one that includes all the options – and Awalt is hoping a series of upcoming fundraisers will help him collect that amount.
He already started, driving a borrowed Trackchair around PrairieFest last weekend and asking for donations, and raised $1,800, he said. And he’s taken in more since then.
He’ll be appearing three times over the next two months, hoping to bring in more. First up is a customer appreciation day at , 3201 Orchard Road in Oswego, on June 29. After that, he’ll be seen at an outdoor show at the Plano American Legion Hall on July 29, and Family Days at the Hoover Forest Preserve in Yorkville on August 18.
Moser, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, was the victim of an improvised explosive device last November in Afghanistan. He spent months recuperating at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland.
Awalt is a veteran himself, having served four years in the Air Force, and part of that time on loan to the Army. In his current role with District 308, he said, he works with special needs students, many of whom are in wheelchairs. That experience has made him want to help Moser all the more, he said.
If you’re interested in donating to the cause, a fund has been set up at under the name Kyle’s Chair/Gary Awalt. If you’d like to donate items to be raffled off at one of the above events, email Awalt at firstname.lastname@example.org.