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Chemainus man aims to make road trips wheelchair friendly

Although he may never walk again, Chris Loscerbo finds freedom on the open road.

Loscerbo is classified high quadriplegic, and is paralyzed from the neck down due to a diving accident in his hometown of Winnipeg.

But thanks to a wheelchair-accessible RV, he is no longer limited by the distance his power wheelchair can take him.

An avid businessman, Loscerbo now operates B.C. Wheelchair Friendly Services Inc., a small RV rental company with two wheelchair accessible rigs.

“I thought it would be good to give other people in my situation the opportunity to go camping,” he said.

“Seeing the smiles that come back from people who rent it is what motivates me.”

Loscerbo purchased his first wheelchair-accessible RV shortly after moving to Chemainus from Winnipeg with his mother and sister in February 1997.

“I had just spent 45 days locked in my house because we had had a couple of blizzards and we couldn’t even get out of our house because all the doors opened out,” he said.

“The only way we got out of the house through the garage door which, fortunately, went up and down.”

Loscerbo enjoyed the freedom of the RV so much that he decided to start renting it to other people. When business started booming, he bought a second RV.

“We went everywhere, we travelled the whole Island, and that was great just being out there with a bonfire and the kids around,” Loscerbo said.

A wheelchair-accessible RV is similar to a regular RV except a few modifications to make it able to accommodate a full-size wheelchair.

“It’s got a ricon lift, which is a wheelchair-accessible lift, and a wide 40-inch door, and inside it’s all set up with lots of room, you can turn around in it,” Loscerbo said.

The larger of the two rigs has a second lift that will take a user from their wheelchair to the bed, toilet and shower.

Wheelchair-accessible RV’s do not require a special license and have built-in hand controls to enable a handicapped individual to drive the vehicle.

“Anybody that drives a car can drive an RV,” Loscerbo said.

RV’s are also the perfect solution for those who want an alternative to flying, Loscerbo said.

“It’s really difficult to travel by air for anybody in a wheelchair, especially a high quad because our wheelchairs are so high tech, and when they start to bang them around in the bottom of the airplanes, invariably something will get damaged and you’ll be at the other end and your wheelchair doesn’t work,” he said.

“Plus, they lift you like you’re a slab of meat to put you into a normal chair, it’s so humiliating.”

“With the RV, I figure it takes a little longer, but you can at least see the country, and you can go camping every night, it’s great.”

Loscerbo dreams of one day having an RV available in every province and says there is a need.

“I get calls from the East Coast, from Florida, and it’s just not possible to deliver the vehicles to them,” he said.

“I’d like to get in bed with an RV company that knows about rental business.”

For more information, visit www.wheelchairfriendlyvacation.com.

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