STAUNTON STATE PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – There are thousands of hiking trails in Colorado and more than 40 Colorado State Parks, but only Staunton State Park has a program giving visitors with disabilities a unique way to explorer the outdoors — at no cost to them.READ MORE: Judge Rules David Lesh Used National Lands Illegally To Promote Outdoor Apparel Company
The “track chair program” was an idea formed by Friends of Staunton State Park in memory of their own friend.
Wayne Parkinson is the president of the board and passionate about the program’s success.
“The first and only Colorado state park to offer this program,” Parkinson said. “Last year we had 150 people out on the trail who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so.”
On Father’s Day Weekend, Pat Hart and his daughter Izzy joined those numbers.
“Undiagnosed, but non mobile, nonverbal. She just really likes being around people,” Hart said.
Despite her disability, the two spent their morning enjoying the Colorado trails.
“I’ve been looking for ways to get out and get out and hike with her,” he said.
He found a way when he found the track chair program.READ MORE: 'A Lot Of Damage Can Be Prevented': Volunteers Prepare CalWood Fire Burn Area In Boulder County For Another Fire Season
“She’s really laid back so the bumping doesn’t bother her quite as much. She’s sleeping through most of it,” he said.
After raising enough funds, Friends of Staunton State Park now has three chairs operating every weekend from May until November and volunteers making it happen.
“I might start crying here. I just love being able to work with people,” volunteer Bob Coburn said about why he dedicates his time to the program.
Even at the end of his shift, he could not turn away from an unplanned trip when CBS4’s crew was there. First he coached the new user on how to operate the chair and then tagged along on the hike to make sure there were no issues.
“It’s just a wonderful experience to be able to see the joy in these people. To be able to come out to a place like this,” Coburn said.
The only downside to the program, at least for Izzy and her dad, was the day ending.
Parkinson says he would love to see the program, all of which runs on donations, expand. If you would like to help with their mission to make the park accessible for all you can visit their website friendsofstauntonstatepark.org.
You can also visit Staunton State Park on Aug. 11 for their Annual Mark Madsen Accessibility Celebration Day anytime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Ranch Hand group picnic area.
To reserve a time to take one of those chairs out for a hike you can visit Colorado Parks and wildlife website at www.cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/staunton.MORE NEWS: Concessionaires Looking To Fill Thousands Of Open Positions At Denver International Airport
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.