Photo Credit WOAY
Maggie Vazquez is a 10-year-old Chicago girl who has cerebral palsy. She needs to use a walker to help her get around. Maggie’s class was planning to have an overnight camping trip, and Maggie’s walker wasn’t going to work in the woods. Her teacher, Helma Wardenaar, wanted to try to find a way to help Maggie keep up with the rest of her class on the trip. Wardenaar checked to see if a traditional wheelchair would work, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be able to function well on the trails. Wardenaar also looked into renting a pony, but those weren’t allowed on the pedestrian path. She told "Good Monring America" that an REI employee named Greg met her at the store and she searched for a solution but struck out. Then, two weeks later, Greg called to say that he'd been researching backpacks and found one called Free Loader. The special backpack helped Wardenaar carry 10-year-old Maggie on her back as they hiked. The Free Loader wasn’t cheap at $300 and it wasn’t the most comfortable, but Maggie loved the trip. She saw deer footprints, butterflies, birds, and more. Maggie was so inspired by her hike and camping trip she even wrote a song about the outdoors.