So I went to see about getting a sports-chair to see if it would help make playing tennis a little easier and if something like wheelchair basketball could be a possibility.
Everyone I talked to about it, from people local to Charlotte to a guy who played for the Canadian basketball team, told me that I had to go see Barry in Georgia. He’s the best in the world apparently.
So after many months of correspondence with Eagle Sports Chairs, Barry’s company, our schedules finally aligned and I had an appointment. The company is located in Snellville, GA. I had never heard of such a place, but a look at the map told me it wasn’t too terribly far from Decatur. I’d heard of Decatur. I’d been to Decatur. I’d been there both to see a doctor at the Emory Clinic and later on to stay at a brain injury rehab facility called Shepherd Pathways.
I thought this proximity to both the Shepherd Center and Emory Clinic made perfect sense. In my mind I pictured a sleek storefront with a showroom displaying various types of chairs. Maybe a workshop in back where the chairs were made. I expected Barry to be either a slightly nerdy engineer type or a cunning profit minded salesman.
As we pulled up to the address my mom and I exchanged sidelong glances. Were we in the right place? We were at a modest single level home with four or five cars parked in its driveway already. My mom looked suspicious and got out to check it out. She was greeted by a wholesome looking lady wearing an apron who said, “Are you the folks here for the one arm push tennis chair? You just need to go to that second driveway. Rhey’re all out back.”
So my mom got back in the car and we pulled around. Our suspicions were hardly alleviated because the driveway was so badly weathered and cracked. When we finally got back to meet Barry he couldn’t have been nicer or more knowledgeable. Here was a guy, known internationally, who upon seeing me turned all of his thoughts not to profit or self aggrandizement but simply to problem solving and figuring out how to get me in the most suitable chair possible at the most economical price to me. He had a crew of five or six that he kept busy in his workshop and spare parts for chairs and automobiles everywhere. The crew’s hours were logged on a large dry erase board.
I got a one arm push chair that I can use for tennis or basketball at half price. I got it cheap because he had made it for someone else about my size who decided that they didn’t like the purple color. The chair is purple, very purple, but who cares? A wheelchair is far from a fashion statement. That’s my opinion anyway.
My mom and I left Eagle Sport Chairs/Barry’s garage astounded with the man’s humility and expertise. Whatever preconceived notions we had when we pulled up to the facility were completely vanquished and replaced by respect and admiration for what he does.