Elliot Dwelley of Phenix City used to be able to walk 30 or 40 miles.
“Now, I can’t even walk down my street,” he said.
Thursday, he was presented a light, small and electric all-terrain vehicle called a Zoom to help him get around.
The machine valued at $12,000 was given to him at no charge by The Independence Fund, a nonprofit organization providing aid to disabled veterans.
The 49-year-old Dwelley served in Desert Storm, including three tours in Iraq, and in Bosnia and was an instructor at Fort Benning. Now a photographer, he loves to do wilderness shots but because of a back injury has difficulty getting out and about.
“With this Zoom, I will be able to do things again,” he said.
“It is a legal, bonafied wheelchair. It can go anywhere,” said David Bowles, representing the manufacturer Zoomability. “He can ride it in a store like a wheelchair, he can take on a plane, he can use it to go deer hunting.”
Bowles brought the vehicle to Phenix City from Fayetteville, N.C.
The Zoom has a permanent symmetrical 4-wheel drive designed for use in rough terrain. The patented frame design ensures that all four wheels stay in contact with the ground regardless of the type of surface.
It weighs 220 pounds and has a maximum speed of 12.6 miles per hour. It has two 48-volt batteries good for 25 miles on a charge.
Bowles said The Independence Fund has given away 148 of them.
Showing Dwelley how to use the vehicle was another disabled veteran Brandon Freeman of Phenix City. He has owned a Zoom for three years. The two even had a short race on the road outside Dwelley’s home.
“It will get you everywhere. I took it to the top of Pine Mountain,” said Freeman who served three tours in the Middle East.
Dwelley found out about The Independence Fund and applied for the vehicle online.
“In a just a couple of days, we heard we qualifed,” said his wife Tammy. “I am excited for him.”
Dwelley said the Zoom will allow him to do more with his 13-year-old daughter Eden.
“It is all about more independence,” he said.
People can find out more about Zoomability at zoomability.com and The Independence Fund at www.independencefund.org.