In 2001, as an energetic, happily married, father of two and gainfully employed 26 year old man, Nathan Ogden made what became a fateful decision just three days before Christmas. He decided to enjoy a fun ski excursion in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Late in the day, he attacked a ski jump that he had tackled many times before. But this time, was different. He landed rather imperfectly and landed hard on his neck, shattering his seventh cervical vertebra, instantly rendering him paralyzed and subsequently diagnosed as a quadriplegic, not able to swallow or even breathe on his own.
With so many amazing things to live for, Nathan battled through setbacks and obstacles, promising himself that he would do whatever it would take to one day walk again. Through intense therapy, Nathan returned to work full time, was able to drive again, and embraced his new life from a seated position with the motto of “We Believe”. He was getting much stronger and was gaining confidence that he would accomplish his ultimate goal.
Just over a year after that fateful ski run, Nathan came down with pneumonia, went unconscious in his sleep and was rushed to a nearby hospital. While receiving x-rays, incredibly his limp body fell off the gurney and Nathan suffered yet a second devastating neck break with even greater neurological damage. The only phrase he spoke before entering surgery for the second time was, “Bring It On!” But, weeks after the second break, Nathan noticed that the muscle movement he had worked so hard to regain in the year following his first accident, now was not coming back. Obviously, this was a devastating blow to his recovery.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2017, when Nathan’s amazing wife, Heather, “was given” an idea – “the Ogden family would do something to make a positive difference in other’s lives.” That germ of an idea blossomed into a 1,200-mile trek from Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, where Nathan had his first accident, to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, to prove that people can in fact do hard things. Heather called a family meeting, including a bewildered Nathan and their now four children ranging in ages from 10 to 18 years old. She announced her idea and the family all signaled their excitement to do it, despite not being cyclists at all!
This trip led securing a partnership with the Wheelchair Foundation, a nonprofit that delivers wheelchairs to children and adults in need around the world. With tenacity and endurance, the family ultimately accomplished their goal to raise $100,000, which they used in partnership with the Wheelchair Foundation to join a wheelchair delivery trip to Mexico, where they delivered over 400 wheelchairs, positively impacting hundreds of lives for individuals and families desperately in need of mobility, independence and hope. Since then, supporters from all over the world have joined in their passion to change lives.
In April 2018, we formalized the non-profit, Chair The Hope, and began a lifelong journey to replicate the success of our inaugural Mexico wheelchair delivery trip!