The Cisco Kid to the Rescue
TrackedMobility Founder Fighting to Help People with Disabilities Access the Great Outdoors
Dubbed “Cisco” by his older brother “Pancho”—nicknames taken from “The Cisco Kid” television series about a Robin Hood-like character who helps the downtrodden—Jeter founded TrackedMobility (trackedmobility.us) after several unsuccessful attempts to convince existing manufacturers to make low-cost or discounted tracked wheelchairs available to people with disabilities. Because tracked chairs currently available on the market are expensive and beyond the means of the vast majority of people who require them for off path use, Jeter has developed his own tracked chair, with the goal of mass-producing them—to bring the cost down—and make them broadly available through a rental business model.
Jeter’s dream is that every public beach, park, or greenspace—as well as private resorts and attractions— have several tracked chairs on-hand, just like grocery and department stores have motorized conveyances (scooters) available for use by customers. After his family and friends purchased a tracked chair for him, Jeter says he had an epiphany that began to bring his dream into focus.
“The elation and joy that I felt when I went across my backyard and into the woods is hard to express in words,” Jeter explains. “I was so overwhelmingly happy from the feeling of independence that it was surreal. Equally and at the same time, I felt the pain of kids with disabilities who have missed out on opportunities I had taken for granted. I had forgotten about adventures that brought me so much joy, that kids with disabilities have never had an opportunity to experience. I forgot about things of which they can only dream. It was painful.
“I knew then that this technology needs to be made available to the public,” Jeter continues. “Making this technology available for the masses not only is morally correct, it is the next logical step and has a proven business model. I imagine a kid with a disability going to the beach, transferring from their wheelchair to a tracked chair already located at the beach kiosk and thoroughly enjoying his/her day with a girlfriend or boyfriend on the beach or playing in the park. This is all possible right now! Making these chairs available at low cost will usher in a tsunami of freedom in people’s lives, and I realized there is a possibility—with the right tools and skilled partners—that I can actually make that kind of impact on people all over the world.”
Currently finalizing development, or freezing development, on the company’s third working prototype of a low-cost tracked chair (https://youtu.be/kUyFNhUU1X0)—with all development to date done in SOLIDWORKS—Jeter is actively seeking help in transforming his dream into a reality. He has strong interest from corporations including joystick manufacturer Curtiss Wright and consulting services firm Accenture and is now looking for engineering and manufacturing assistance from the SOLIDWORKS community. To truly appreciate Jeter’s passion and commitment to making independent mobility a reality for people with disabilities around the world, one must learn how he came to pursue his dream.
Jeter was riding in the back seat of a car traveling along old Route 48, now Interstate 68, on his way back to Salem College, West Virginia, where he was a football scholarship student, when the car left the road and careened down the side of a mountain in Western Maryland. All occupants of the vehicle were ejected, which was fortunate as the car rolled and collapsed on itself. Being thrown from the car allowed everyone to survive. Jeter ended up with the car resting on his chest. Rescue personnel rappelled down the mountainside to reach him.
“I remember being in pain and having trouble breathing because the car was sitting on my chest,” he recounts. “I was flown to the Univeristy of Maryland Medical Center Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore, where I learned that the accident had shattered my T12 vertebra and that I was paralyzed from the waist down. That’s some rough news for a 20-year-old guy who played football and lacrosse, and wrestled, to hear.”
Following a projected three-to-six-month rehabilitation stay at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., Jeter completed rehabilitation and was discharged in just five weeks. On the way home, he passed the route of the annual Marine Corps. Marathon, where he saw some wheelchair racers, and realized that that was something he could do. His parents eager to assist bought him a racing chair. Jeter started training for the next Marine Corp Marathon, in which he not only competed but placed fourth in the Wheelchair Division. When a reporter from his hometown of Springfield, Virginia, asked him what he was going to do next, Jeter didn’t have an answer. The reporter suggested that he compete in the Paralympics, an athletic competition for people with disabilities that coincides with the Olympics every four years. Jeter said that sounded like a good plan to him.
Just like the Olympics, competing in the Paralymics requires funding for equipment and training, which Jeter received following a highly publicized fundraising concert put on by a friend’s father’s band—Redstone II—that filled two ballrooms at a Holiday Inn and raised just under $50,000. Jeter says he felt a lot of pressure to win after that event, which led him to Eugene, Oregon, to train with legendary Paralympian Craig Blanchette, who was featured in a famous Nike TV commercial that showed him getting up in the morning, swimming, and lifting weights. Then, the voice-over asks “How or why do you do it?” The camera pulls back, and Blanchette says, “I just do it.”
That’s what Jeter did, pushing his racing chair 10 to 15 miles each day, lifting weights, swimming, stretching, and riding a hand cycle; a regimen that he followed five to six hours a day, six days a week. Two years later, he won a Bronze Medal in the 800-meter race and a Gold Medal, setting a world record, in the 4 X 400-meter relay race at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain.
After the Paralympics, Jeter started the Fairfax County Wheelchair Sports Program with five teen and pre-teen kids with disabilities. Now known as the Fairfax Falcons and managed by two of the original participants, the program has grown substantially and today is a nationally recognized and ranked sports program. The experiences on Jeter’s journey—strewn with instances of others helping him and he helping others—have combined to crystallize his dream of people with disabilities and limitations experiencing greater freedom outdoors in an affordable way. Yet the experience that really put Jeter in motion was the final request of his late uncle, Vern Dickerson.
“My Uncle Vern had terminal cancer, and he was lying in hospice awaiting the end when he told us that he wanted to go to the beach to see one last sunset,” Jeter recalls. “He didn’t get to go before he died, which was really a shame. That experience combined with my later acquisition of a tracked chair solidified my commitment to not just let people know that tracked chairs exist, but to make them affordable and available to the millions of people with disabilities in the United States and around the world.”
TrackedMobility’s association with SOLIDWORKS stems from a serendipitous meeting, like so many relationships in the SOLIDWORKS community. As part of his efforts to get an electric motor manufacturer to support his dream, Jeter agreed to do some sales and tradeshow work, which was how he found himself hawking a small animal grooming tool for three days at a tradeshow for veterinarians in New York. It was there that he met Taj and Raj, nephews of Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS executive Suchit Jain, who have developed a veterinary blood diagnosis system.
That chance meeting led to TrackedMobility’s ability to further advance its tracked chair design in SOLIDWORKS, working with a contract engineer. To take the next step toward realizing his goal, Jeter needs assistance in optimizing his design for performance—minimizing the need for costly, destructive physical testing—and manufacturability, so chair components can be easily mass-produced and assembled utilizing automated techniques that hold down production costs. You can reach “Cisco” by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (888) 976-2525 or (571) 437-5861.