How a Chance Meeting Changed a Young Man’s Life
When the Mobella team went to Austin for a January Afari walking event, they crossed paths with a young man in a wheelchair sitting outside the Texas Rowing Center boathouse on Ladybird Lake. The man had a Happy Birthday balloon tied to his wheelchair—it turned out to be his thirty-first birthday—and it was clear that he was somewhat of a local celebrity by the way people heading down the trail gave him elbow bumps and high fives as they wished him a happy birthday. The team was instantly taken by this vibrant and charismatic individual, whose name is Daniel Velazquez.
Daniel’s story is a remarkable one. Gravely injured in a 2012 motorcycle accident, Daniel spent nearly a year in the hospital, three of those months in a vegetative state, and suffered severe brain injury and paralysis. Daniel has also had several strokes in the intervening years.
None of these obstacles derailed this young man’s determination to lead an independent and fulfilling life. Although financial challenges have made it difficult for Daniel to receive physical or occupational therapy, he holds tight to his dream of becoming more mobile and leaving his wheelchair behind.
At the January Mobella event, Daniel was given a chance to try the Afari all-terrain walker. As soon as Daniel took a few steps with the Afari, the team could tell that it would help Daniel reach his goal of greater mobility. Daniel was able to walk close to one hundred feet around the Texas boathouse. It was an emotional moment seeing Daniel make such strides. The team knew that Daniel needed an Afari of his own. Thanks to a generous donation and with the help of Matt Knifton, the owner of the Texas Rowing Center, who agreed to store and maintain the Afari, they returned to Ladybird Lake on March 1 and delivered a new Afari to Daniel.
Matt was with Daniel that day and thanked Mobella for setting Daniel up with “something that could really give him a lot of liberation from his wheelchair. He’s already started walking the trail,” Matt said, “and man, he is getting this thing down and I’m so excited to see him” continue to progress using the Afari.
In response to receiving his donated Afari, Daniel spoke of his unwavering desire to “get better” and how the Afari will help him do just that. This speaks to his determination and tenacity as he works to become a more mobile person. It also highlights how the Afari walker can transform lives by giving people a stylish and functional product that keeps them moving forward.
If you would like to donate to Daniel’s Go fund Me campaign, click here.