Everyday Hero: Making Portland-area trails accessible to folks with differing abilities
MILWAUKIE, Ore. —
A Portland woman's passion for the outdoors didn't stop when multiple sclerosis robbed her of her ability to walk.
Instead, she set out to share her favorite parks with people like her -- in wheelchairs or with differing abilities.
Chances are good that if you run into Georgena Moran she'll be rolling along a trail in some hidden gem of a park in the Portland area.
“Always looking for a new place to go and find something I never experienced before,” she said before rolling along a trail at Spring Park in Milwaukie.
Seeking adventure didn't end in 1998 when she was diagnosed with MS.
And it didn't stop when she had to use a wheelchair to get around starting in 2002.
Finding trails that matched her abilities, however, was hard.
“There was a lack of information online as well as in books,” she said. “You know a lot of these things, all these resources, provide you like the pretty pictures. What it lacked was definitive information so that I would know if I could actually use it.”
So she set out to educate both the people who ran the trails and potential hikers on what to expect with the website Access Trails.
“These trails vary from ones where you can reach the water to other ones that are like a picnic area,” she explained.
And half of the 36 featured trails are accompanied by videos.
About a year ago Georgena transitioned from a wheelchair controlled by joystick to one using a chin-drive.
It hasn't slowed her down a bit.
“Occasionally it’s nice to have a paved surface, but I prefer the natural,” she said. “I prefer to go out there and feel like I’m part of a natural environment.”
Her adventure seeking didn't stop with trails.
Before her illness, Georgena loved to be on the water.
Last year she and friends designed two different motorized craft.
“You figure out a way and technology helps along the way,” she said. "You learn different ways to be able to make your dreams come true.”
Georgena tells us that money to set up the project came from two grants from metro parks.
During their tours of the trails, she said, maintenance to improve surfaces, remove rocks or obstacles often happened the same day or soon after.