Myrtle Beach man hopes new wheel chair can get him back to the beach

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – April is Alcohol Awareness Month and for several area high schools it’s also prom season. Your kids may have had Chris Skinner speak at their school recently, warning of the dangers of drinking and driving. 

“Your life can change in the snap of a finger,” said Chris Skinner, “and that’s what happened to me.”

19 years ago Chris’ life capsized.

“I was 20 years old. I was a fully abled individual, wiggle my fingers, wiggle my toes. I was athletic and was in the Army National Guard,” said Chris, “but I was making poor choices with my life at the time. On one particular night, coming home from a wedding, going to another guys house, me and my friends were intoxicated, we were drunk, and I didn’t put my seat belt on, and the very last curve we were going around, just 750 yards from the house we were going, my friend lost control of the car and rolled it. The car flipped two-and-a-half times. I was thrown out and I broke my neck at the C-5 C-6 level leaving me paralyzed from about the collar bones down. I laid in that ditch and I did what everyone does every morning, I tried to get up, I tried to keep going.”

Chris didn’t get up, in fact his life in went deeper into the ditch. Eventually he got back on track and found someone to stand with him. 

“You’re not supposed to date your patient,” said Chris’ wife Suzie Skinner, “which we didn’t when he was my patient.”

Chris is now a motivational speaker, counselor, and author. As much as he enjoys telling his story and having people flip though the pages of his book, he also likes to make memories with his family, and add to the pages of the family album. 

“I was very blessed, very privileged, to have a power beach wheelchair,” said Chris, “but that particular beach wheelchair didn’t tilt me back. So I kept getting pressure sores, or wounds on my bottom. I actually had to lay down in my bed for five months last year during the summer, I missed the whole summer, and it was very hard. I was deeply sad.” 

“I don’t feel like it’s fair to Chris for us to go and have him stay at home, and they don’t want to go without him,” said Suzie. “The beach just feels like family to us, so any moment he’s not there, it’s not the same.” 

Chris’ old chair just doesn’t work, so they need something new that does.

“That’s why it’s so hard when I come to the beach and I’m not able to get onto the beach, and my kids and my wife are down on the beach,” said Chris. “If I don’t have a beach wheelchair, I have to sit on the beach and just watch them. And that’s tough.”

However, there is one out there that will work for Chris, a TracFab Wheelchair. It goes almost anywhere. 

“It meant everything to me. I had the greatest memories of my life living at the beach at the Outer Banks,” said Chris. “I surfed, I love surfing, I love fishing. So when we decided to raise our kids, we wanted to come back to the beach and raise our kids.”

With a new chair, Chris can finally get back to the beach, with his family.

“The chair gives life to him, and it then gives life to our family,” said Suzie, “and for him to have that freedom, that he doesn’t normally get, when there’s so much that he can’t do, so for him to get that part of his life back is huge. And it just brings so much joy and peace, and it makes a difference.” 

A TracFab Wheelchair costs about as much as some cars, $10,000. Because of that high cost, Chris’ wife Suzie has a Go-Fund-Me page set up to help cover the cost. 

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