Tankchair inventor teams with NFL to help more veterans

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- There are so many things in this world most of us take for granted, like driving a car or walking across the street. But the Soden family learned what it is like when a family member can't do those things, and that inspired an invention that changes lives.

The Tankchair was unlike anything on the market when Brad Soden invented it. He loves the outdoors and wanted wheelchair-bound people to be able to see it all.

Soden has always been good at fixing things, and more than a decade ago, he started inventing.

“When you're in a wheelchair, it’s not just your problem,” said Soden. “It’s a family problem because the family has to deal with it.”

An accident left Soden’s wife, Liz, in a wheelchair. On a trip to the back country, they realized how limiting that could be.

“My poor wife. She tried to keep going and the wheelchair kept getting stuck,” he said. “Our kids trying to push her, and get her going, and she started crying, said go on without me, and I just found that unacceptable.”

Soden created the Tankchair.  First for his wife, and now for disabled veterans.

“You can't make a forest handicap-accessible, so we can bring them to the forest,” he said.

His chair goes just about anywhere. And with better batteries, farther than many can walk.“ You can get 10 miles easy,” he said.

The design has evolved, the parts improved, and he even made one to help a man stand at his wedding.

Soden and the original Tankchair even made it to Hollywood.

“I'm actually Wall-E,” he said.  “They called me and asked me to come down.”

That's right. Tankchair helped the artists create the character for the Pixar film.

For more than 10 years, Soden has refined his invention and focused his work. Delivering Tankchairs to wounded veterans who just want to see more of the world.

“I'm not a real good businessman,” he admitted. “I'm just more happy in my garage making stuff and I get to meet my clients and see a big smile on their face. See how I changed their world. That's worth more to me than anything.”

Soden gets on the road this week delivering five new chairs to veterans across the country. Then he will meet with NFL Hall of Famers. They have a partnership as we head toward the Superbowl to collect donations and get more disabled veterans in Tankchairs.