Man traveling 300 miles by wheelchair to raise awareness for accessible trails

A disabled man is rolling his way through Washington in a power wheelchair to bring awareness to the need for more accessible trails and bike paths.

Ian Mackay embarked on the first part of his 10-day journey Saturday. He plans to travel more than 300 miles.

The route will span the entire state and use multi-use paths, trails and roadways. The trip will begin in the San Juan Islands, move down into Seattle and end in Portland.

He expects the majority of his trip to be on roads and shoulders of small highways, though he wishes it were not.

He hopes his presence on the highways and shoulders of the roads highlights the need for more wheelchair accessibility on nature trails around the state.

>> Read more trending stories

"I just wanted to do something big," Mackay said of his journey in a July 24 YouTube video.

He’s dubbing the cross-state sojourn “Ian’s Ride."

Mackay, a self-described avid outdoorsman, was involved in a biking accident in 2008 while riding home from college on a familiar path in Santa Cruz, California, according to his travel website.

The then-26-year-old man slammed headfirst into a tree. He never lost consciousness, but lost the ability to use his arms or legs.

He was airlifted to the nearest emergency room. Doctors determined he had sustained a spinal cord injury.

"Both my parents dropped everything and immediately drove to be by my side," Mackay said on his website.

Mackay said his helmet likely saved his life.

“Hours after the crash, swelling in the spinal cord continued to cause me to lose sensation and movement in my chest and shoulders,” Mackay said. “I soon lost the ability to breathe and was intubated and put on a ventilator.”

Mackay underwent surgery to reconstruct and fuse his spine. Doctors also restored multiple respiratory issues.

Today, Mackay says his fervor for the outdoors has been rekindled with the help of assistive technology.

He says he is lucky to be able to explore the numerous Washington trails that are wheelchair accessible – but that there are still many areas and trails that are difficult or impossible for him to traverse.

See his planned route here.

About the Author