How one girl inspired us to redefine the wheelchair.

Emma’s Story

Hikers in search of a challenge need look no further than Mount Timpanogos.

Rising 5,269 feet above the Utah Valley elevation, it’s easy to see why “Timp” calls people to climb to its summit. Many try, and some fail. But it wasn’t the 14 miles of rugged trail through forest, waterfalls, rocky slopes, and ridges that kept Emma from the top. 

It was her lack of an outdoor mountain wheelchair.  

The day Emma walked for the last time was much like any other. Her family had gathered for a birthday celebration in a nearby canyon park, part of a summertime family reunion. And then, the unthinkable happened. An 85-foot tall cottonwood tree fell (https://www.deseret.com/2000/8/7/19522447/4-year-old-girl-paralyzed-after-tree-accident).

There was no wind. No one chopped at the tree’s trunk. There was no reason to suspect that the towering poplar would come crashing down, but it did. 

Emma and six of her extended family members were crushed beneath the tree. Her grandmother and cousin were killed, but 4-year-old Emma survived. 

After 10 days in the ICU and three weeks in the hospital, Emma was sent home, but life was far from normal. The accident left the active little girl paralyzed from the waist down and facing an uncertain future. 

Setting Sights On The Summit

Several years later, Emma sat in her elementary school classroom and listened to a biologist talk about bears. 

The guest speaker explained that the scientists used special collars to track and monitor the bears in the wild. In the nearby mountains, they would periodically check in on their subjects. 

The enthusiastic visitor invited any of the children in the class who wanted to see the bears to come with him on his next expedition. Emma raised her hand. 

It wasn’t until class finished that the biologist realized Emma was in a wheelchair. He sought out a friend, the local fire department battalion chief for advice. The chief called Dale Pitts. 

Dale was a member of the fire department. He was a handy and creative guy. He also happened to be the first responder who cared for Emma the day of her accident. 

Dale designed a special chair to carry Emma through two miles of backcountry to see the bears. Together with his fellow firemen, he provided the muscle and the legwork that Emma needed.

On the way, Dale struck up a conversation with Emma’s father. He learned that her family climbed Mount Timpanogos every year. “I’d like to take Emma with us,” her father said, “but I don’t know if we can carry her the whole way.” 

And Dale had an idea. 

Redefining The Wheelchair

In order to get Emma to the top of Timp, she needed to be pushed or pulled, not carried. She needed a wheelchair —  but a wheelchair nothing like the chair she used every day. 

Dale turned to his lifelong friend Todd Loader, who owned and operated a local machine shop. Together they designed an all terrain manual wheelchair. 

The chair was created to make maneuvering skinny trails possible. It featured a single all terrain wheelchair tire fit for traveling across dirt, rock, sand, and water, with space for two operators. One person would push, another would pull, and Emma would finally climb the mountain with her family. 

That year, Emma reached the summit. 

Inspired by Emma’s experience, Dale and Todd began to evolve their design. Extreme Motus was born. 

Their original all terrain manual wheelchair went from one wheel to three, allowing it to be pushed by a single individual. They then partnered with local organizations to provide wheelchairs for local athletic events and outdoor experiences. This enabled individuals and families to participate in events together and go places that they were never able to go before. 

The Extreme Motus Mission

Extreme Motus is dedicated to bringing Dale, Todd, and Emma’s passion to the world. We believe everyone should be able to participate in the activities that bring them joy — regardless of their physical abilities. 

Today’s chair features a lightweight yet durable aluminum frame and all terrain wheelchair tires that provide cushion and suspension, making it ideal for everything from running a marathon to a day at the beach. 

Discover our groundbreaking all terrain manual wheelchair: The Emma X3. Adventure starts today!