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All-terrain wheelchair now available at Fontainebleau State Park

It’s the first state park in Louisiana to get an all-terrain wheelchair.

MANDEVILLE, La. — People with limited mobility can now get out on hiking trails and explore the beach at Fontainebleau State Park. 

It’s the first state park in Louisiana to get an all-terrain wheelchair.

Beth Giacone was one of the first to try it out, allowing her to explore a hiking trail for the first time in 15 years. 

The once active runner, hiker, swim coach, and physical therapist, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2003.

“Amazing,” Giacone said.

Her helper, Amy Duhon, said despite her diagnosis she still stays active.

“She goes to the beach, we go on long walks,” Duhon said.

The wheelchair is electric and has large, all-terrain tires that can go places a conventional wheelchair can’t navigate.

“It’s muddy sometimes, wet, the limestones are hard to maneuver on. These tracks will go over anything out here,” said Fontainebleau State Park Manager Jennifer Wallace.

If you can’t operate the chair yourself, someone else can control it. The new chair is free to use at Fontainebleau for anyone at least 16 years old with limited mobility. You just have to reserve it 48 hours in advance.

“This opens up a world for people with limited mobility,” Duhon said. 

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser said it’s part of his effort to make all of Louisiana’s state parks more accessible for people with disabilities.

Also coming soon to Fontainebleau is a playground and cabins that accommodate special needs. Nungesser also hopes to get beach wheelchairs.

“We’ve got so many families with special needs, we’re really going to up our game,” he said.

“She (Giacone) has wanted to take a vacation this year with her son and go hiking, we were trying to figure out how to do this now we can vacation right here,” Duhon said.

Fontainebleau is just the first state park in Louisiana to get this all-terrain wheelchair but Nungesser hopes to eventually add them to every state park. The next one to get one will be Bogue Chitto State Park in Franklinton.

To reserve the Fontainebleau State Park all-terrain chair, go to www.lastateparks.com/all-terrain-chair or call the park at 1-888-677-3668.

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