What do a nearly 50-foot-long wheelchair ramp and wild horses have in common? More than you might think!
In October 2023, EZ Mobility Solutions installed a 48-foot wheelchair-accessible ramp for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) at The Betsy Dowdy Equine Center in Corolla, North Carolina.
The ability to undertake this large project and provide the organization the opportunity to ensure that there were no barriers to entry for their event — it made all the difference for our team. In a way, the experience felt symbolic for us.
Wild horses are some of the most majestic, free-exploring animals here in the United States. They epitomize the idea of freedom, independence, and graceful movement. Here at EZ Mobility Solutions, those are qualities that fall near and dear to our hearts.
As an accessibility solutions company, we work to ensure that individuals are afforded the chance to continue enjoying their lives even as mobility challenges or limitations occur. Many of us can take for granted the ease of access and movement that we have in our daily lives. From exiting our homes and walking to the car or climbing a flight of stairs, these simple actions are major concerns for some. Can you imagine a horse not being able to run through a prairie or gallop up a hill? You’d likely feel heartbroken and saddened by the quality of life and obstacles that the horse was experiencing.
The same is true of humans — unfortunately, it too often goes unnoticed or deprioritized. So when we got the call from CWHF, we saw the parallel lines from the start, and out the gate, we knew we wanted to play a part in making sure their event was a success — and lived up to the spirit of what wild horses represent.
“It’s important to ensure that everyone can fully participate in your event, hear our message, and feel included. Providing accessibility not only enhances safety but also fosters goodwill. It makes us happy knowing that our doors are open to all,” Kelly Wilkes, CWHF Board Member, said.
The Backstory of Corolla Wild Horse Fund
Since 1989, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund has been rescuing and protecting the wild horses of Currituck, NC, while preserving the land as a sanctuary for the animals. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, their mission is “to protect, conserve, and responsibly manage the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs roaming freely on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks, and to promote the continued preservation of this land as a permanent sanctuary for horses designated as the State Horse and defined as a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina.”
The Betsy Dowdy Equine Center
The Betsy Dowdy Equine Center is a mainland sanctuary facility dedicated to the rehabilitation of all rescued horses. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund offers programming for community members to visit the equine center and view the rescue horses under their care.
Stairs Don’t Need to be a Hurdle
A core principle that the CWHF holds is providing all interested parties the chance to take part in educational and teaching opportunities on their farm. However, not all opportunities are easily accessible. In a world where groundbreaking advancements are happening every day, it seems outdated and disheartening that something as simple as a flight of stairs would prevent motivated people from attending an event.
“We aim to provide full access to all educational events and teaching opportunities on our farm to everyone who wishes to attend. However, we discovered that some visitors were unable to climb the steps to our farmhouse to watch a documentary we offer. To remove this barrier, we installed a mobility ramp that now allows all interested visitors to access the activities and our staff that are inside the farmhouse,” Chris Winter, CWHF CEO, said.
With the event quickly coming up, and concerns about their remote location near the North Carolina Outer Banks, as well as their smaller non-profit budget, the organization was concerned about finding a solution.
“We didn’t know who would be willing to come to our area and work with our budget, as we are a non-profit and watching expenses is very important. EZ Mobility Solutions responded quickly to our inquiry…They came up with a creative solution involving some new equipment and some used equipment to construct a ramp that gave us exactly what we needed,” Wilkes said.
Jumping to a Solution
After the call from CWHF, we got to work. So here at EZ Mobility Solutions we rallied our herd, strategized a comprehensive plan, and set out (not on horseback) for North Carolina.
The main challenge with installing a nearly 50-foot ramp was finding the right location on the property. Our staff collaborated with the property manager to configure a layout that met ADA requirements, as well as, left space for parking. This took some creativity to find the optimal layout, but we landed on a solution that worked for all parties involved.
Once the layout was solidified, we had the ramp installed within a week before the CWHF’s fall event. While we have installed countless accessibility accommodations and solutions over the years, this project felt special. Our team was elated to partner with an organization doing important work that was making a difference in the lives of both people and our equine counterparts.
“The Betsy Dowdy Equine Center, where the ramp was installed, provides tourists and locals the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Colonial Spanish Mustangs that require rehabilitation. Their property includes over 20 horses and an office that provides informative materials to help explain the history of the Corolla Horse Fund and its mission… Being a part of this project left me with a smile on my face,” Fred Walker, EZ Mobility Solutions Team Member, said.
The Importance of Accessibility Aids for Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations
Businesses and organizations should understand the importance of providing access to all customers and visitors at every location or event. We as humans often overlook these perspectives and take our mobility for granted, but those with movement challenges deserve equal access to their favorite businesses and organizations just as anyone else.
Accessibility aids such as wheelchair ramps, Vertical Lift Platforms (VPLs), and stair lifts can make the biggest difference in a customer’s life. EZ Mobility Solutions owner David Todd agrees, saying he has seen the power of “just getting the sun on someone’s face.” That’s why our mission is to provide solutions that give individuals the feeling of belonging, equality, and independence.
“After working for EZ Mobility for over 6 years, I have seen the pain those with disabilities experience when their disability prevents them from doing the day-to-day activities enjoyed by everyone… Our ramps and other mobility products make a difference in people’s lives and that’s the rewarding part of our business,” Walker said.
Serving the Community with Accessibility Solutions
So, to bring this story full circle here at EZ Mobility Solutions, this collaborative project with CWHF has paid us in ways we weren’t expecting. Seeing horses up close and personal that have their own life challenges and require rehabilitation made us realize we all are one and the same. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work alongside such an impactful organization that sees the value in mobility access and look forward to future projects together.
If you are looking for mobility solutions for your home or business, we would love to assist you in finding the right fit for your needs. Contact us for a free consultation at (855) 584-7198 or online today! We look forward to serving you.