By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 21, 2019
CAIRO, Ga. (WCTV) -- A South Georgia man is sharing his 10-year journey, from becoming paralyzed from the waist down to innovating a new solution for a life beyond the wheelchair.
Ben Huntzinger is a paraplegic who lives in Cairo. He believes nothing should limit your access to the lifestyle you love.
With every torch and fuse of metal, Ben is like any new entrepreneur.
He's confident his innovation, Spartan Wheel Chariots, will change lives, much like his own.
"That's why I started my business."
A business made with his own two hands and built on his own four wheels.
"It's because of people out there like me that I've met in this 10 year journey of mine that were searching for something more."
Ben was paralyzed from his waist down after a bad car accident, ten years ago.
The outdoorsman was soon limited to sidewalks and started creating his first prototype.
"I've never felt like anybody could define the way I was going to live my life, no matter what my situation was with my spinal cord injury."
His vision took off in 2018, when he enrolled in welding at his local college.
"Ben was our very first choice. He already had a product ready for market and he'd already been working so hard," said Carrie Viohl, with Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville.
Viohl works in the marketing department and met Ben when he first asked for help on his business.
This year, the school was contacted by the Georgia Chamber about their new contest, Inventure Prize.
Invitations were extended to top colleges across the state, and SRTC decided to give Ben his chance.
"The entire college was so excited," says Viohl. "It was especially nice to see him grow as a person and as a professional."
By April, Ben took a live stage in Atlanta. He pitched his product to a panel of expert judges and made it to the final five.
By the end, he placed second and was awarded for people's choice. A cash prize of $25,000.
"That give me the fire I needed to be like let me show you who you're dealing with and what I'm about to do with this situation."
By May, Spartan Wheel Chariots hit the ground rolling. The chairs are priced at $500 and available in just days.
Ben says the chairs he creates allow customers to enjoy life, both indoors and out.
"In the real world outside of the hospital, this is the terrain."
Ben's product adds bigger wheels, durable frame, and a rear suspension system for comfort and support.
"Horse buggies had suspension in 1898 patented. Why wheelchairs made today don't have suspension is just another one of those things you wonder about."
Ben's hope and purpose is to show others like him, where there's a wheel there's a way to a better life.
"I hope people see this and see they can do something about their situation too. They don't have to rely on anybody. They have what it takes."
Since May, Ben has sold more than 50 chariots across the country.
You can find the off-road wheelchairs on his website, by clicking here.