Former Army Sgt. Ryan Long Receives All Terrain Wheelchair At Concert in Charlotte

Courtesy of the Independence Fund

Brett Jensen
July 28, 2019 - 4:23 pm

Former Army Sgt. Ryan Long loves to hunt and spend time with his family at the ocean in his hometown of Virginia Beach. The problem is he can’t always do that.

Sgt. Long lost the lower part of his right leg in 2012 due to a roadside bomb that exploded underneath the vehicle he and four other servicemen were riding in while stationed in Afghanistan. He wears a prosthetic leg, but it doesn’t always allow him to do the things he wants.

“Who wants to go home with sand in their prosthetics,” Sgt. Long said rhetorically. “My wife and children will go to the beach and I won’t even go. … Usually I just stay home and say, ‘I’ll see you when you get back.’”

Those are concerns of the past now for Sgt. Long, 35, and his family as he was the recipient of a special all-terrain wheelchair worth $16,000 that was presented to him by the Independence Fund at the Florida Georgia Line concert at PNC Music Pavilion Saturday night here in Charlotte.

The presentation is one of 12 taking place at a FGL concert this year. The Independence Fund is donating all of the wheelchairs.

“I like to hunt, so I'm hoping that, you know, it'll give me a little bit more mobility and a little bit of access to get into places that I used to wouldn't go into,” he said. “There’s some kind of swamp over there, you know? I don't think so. And I'm hoping that this would give me opportunity to go in and do that and experience it and give me the access to do it as well.”

Because this particular type of wheelchair is essentially a 4x4 miniaturized tank, it has no problems doing things regular wheelchairs can’t do, like go in the sand and over curbs and muddy places. And because of that, Sgt. Long said going to the beach will no longer be an issue.

Since 2007, the Independence Fund has donated more than 2,400 varieties of wheelchairs and more than $60 million to veterans, their caregivers and families to help their needs and living as normal of a life as possible.

A few hours before the concert and presentation, Sgt. Long was nervous about the whole upcoming experience. He said he doesn’t like big crowds due to some side effects from PTSD and that he’s really embarrassed by the whole thing.

“I’m going to buckle down and power through,” he said laughing. “I'm not used that kind of audience or that kind of attention. So that's gonna be the part where, I’m like, ‘I don’t know. Why did I sign up for this?’”

The presentation went without a hitch and as expected some 20,000 fans gave Sgt. Long a standing ovation and he handled the situation with the poise he displayed moments after losing his leg to that enemy bomb.

Below are the video of his presentation and the audio of the entire interview, including everything that he remembers about that fateful day when he lost his leg.

For more information about the Independence Fund or to donate, please visit IndependenceFund.org

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