At the time, Elizabeth was a mother of two, while Brad had three sons of his own.
Together, they made an amazing team and Brad admitted that after only a few weeks of dating he was completely in love with Elizabeth. According to him, she was the most unselfish person he knew. Sadly, life was about to take a drastic turn for both Brad and Elizabeth.
Three days after Elizabeth’s 35th birthday, she was involved in a severe car accident that left her with a broken back.
She flew to Vegas where a specialist delivered a grim prognosis, even going as far as to tell her to say her goodbyes now. Could Elizabeth pull through this horrible time?
Despite her prognosis, Elizabeth fought hard to live. Thankfully, her condition improved over time, but she was made aware that she would never walk again.
Realizing she could be saddling Brad down with more than he bargained for, she made it clear he could leave her if he wanted someone “normal.” Is it possible Brad could actually leave her. After all, she was the love of his life.
At the wedding, Elizabeth refused to have her wheelchair in any of her wedding photos. Therefore, Brad arranged for her to sit in a golf cart.
She was driven down the aisle by her grandfather and later by her husband to the reception. And you know what’s even more romantic. Their first dance he carried Elizabeth the entire time!
Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s happiness would be fleeting and she would spend years in and out of hospitals due to infections and complications.
She would undergo over 12 blood transfusions, five surgeries and 32 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber. Doctors hoped the treatments would speed up her recovery. Unfortunately, things wouldn’t be that easy.
According to Elizabeth everyday tasks became quite challenging, but no matter how bad it got, she refused to dwell on the negatives.
For Elizabeth, positivity was the key to survival, although she spent every day in pain. Thankfully, she had Brad to rely on.
The family tried to continue their normal activities, but when Elizabeth ran into obstacles, Brad knew he had to do something. “We were out there one day and a herd of elk came through the campgrounds,” Brad Soden recalled.
“We tried to get her in the chair and get her out with the kids, and the chair kept getting stuck. She was crying, saying, ‘Just go on without me,’ and I just found that unacceptable. So I told her I would build her something.” And this, this was the beginning of something that would go on to change many, many lives.
According to Brad, he created the tank chair by using a motorized caterpillar track system for the wheels in an effort to make it useful in various situations and terrains. “People who design wheelchairs generally design them for getting around inside of a building or a home.
For that, they’re great, since they don’t damage carpets or flooring. But it also means they want you to basically just exist, but not to live.”.
Because Brad wanted to make the most unique wheelchair in the world, it wasn’t going to look like your average ride.
This design, was sure to cause heads to turn.
To say Elizabeth was excited when she saw her new wheels would be an understatement.
Knowing her husband cared so much about her mobility, brought her to tears. It also made her a local celebrity in her neighborhood.
Elizabeth had this to say to Bloomberg News, “We’re taught as a society that it’s not polite to stare.
But people who get hurt don’t want to be shunned. Once they get in the chair, people will stop and come over.”.
The final product Brian built Elizabeth was truly unique.
It came equipped with abilities specially designed to help Elizabeth and her adventures.
Elizabeth shared with Bloomberg news how she felt about her new found freedom, “The freedom was just…awesome,” she said. “It was like I was handed my legs back again. [Prior to the accident,] we were always camping and being outside and being a mom with five kids, I would set up the camp,” she said.
“After the accident, I got put next to the fire and everyone else went off and did everything. I tried so hard not to cry. The kids wanted to go on hike and I couldn’t go with them.” Quickly the family realized how important this chair was, and how it could help so many others.
Through trial and error and much research, Brad was able to get the cost of each chair down to around $15,000, from the original $50,000.
This was a huge win for the couple, as they wanted to reach as many people as possible, but they knew there was room for improvement.
As Brad continues his mission to provide wheels for those in need, we have no doubt that he will make a difference others in lives.
Of course, the person he’s impacted the most would be his wife Elizabeth. We wish them many more years of happiness.