Monthly Archives: December 2013

SCI Superstar: Anthony Netto


When Anthony Netto was injured in a car accident in 1994, hit by by a drunk driver while on his way to a major golf tournament in South Africa, he thought he would never be able to play golf again. But fortunately for all of the golfers in the world, he did not concede so easily.

Instead, after meeting a young boy with a disability while in rehab, his self-pity went out the window and he decided to figure out how he could golf again. Anthony ended up creating one of the coolest machines ever invented to help people without leg movement to stand up and play golf. Read his amazing story and how he’s helping others rediscover golf below.

Why he’s fearless

When you’re injured on your way to do something you love, the feelings of confliction run deep. For Anthony Netto, a South African born and raised and veteran of Desert Storm (he was a First Lieutenant in South African military), he didn’t think golf was a possibility after his injury. But then he did try to golf from his wheelchair, and found too many drawbacks. The biggest – sitting down while swinging was just too awkward.

That was when Anthony decided to invent the Paragolfer, a power wheelchair for anyone who wants to golf again. The machine can go up hills and sand dunes like a champ, but the coolest aspect is that it can stand you up so you can swing from the most natural (and successful pose) possible – standing. Everyone assumes this is by far the most successful pose for golfing, and Anthony definitely agrees. The Paragolfer can cover 27 holes on one charge.

Officially, Ottobock, a wheelchair manufacturer from Germany, manufacturers Anthony’s Paragolfer, and the price for one of these amazing creations will set you back $25,000. Check them out. Since the price is so expensive, Anthony loves to travel the country in a RV talking to people with disabilities about how to successfully raise money to get a Paragolfer installed at a course near them.

In his RV, he has a trailer that pulls his all of his Paragolfers as he travels. He may travel more than any other person with a spinal cord injury I know.  Speaking of which, this fall he made a video hoping to get his RV remodeled on the “Rock my RV’ reality-show hosted by Bret Michaels on E! No word yet if he’s been chosen, but here’s his submission video.

What’s next?

More than just inventing the device, what Anthony has done since he created the Paragolfer is even more impressive. A veteran himself, Anthony is passionate about bringing his device to as many people around the world as possible, especially newly injured individuals at rehab units through the Wounded Warriors organization.  From new vets with SCIs to amputees, Anthony brings the Paragolfer to veteran rehab facilities all around the country, hosting clinics teaching how it’s operated, and how to golf from him. Watch him bring his machine to newly injured vets

One a side note, last summer I had the awesome opportunity of meeting Anthony and I can say that despite not being as agile as him in the least, I loved the Paragolfer. Anthony is also one of the most passionate people with SCI I’ve ever met, and with a golf swing that can top 250 meters, he has that magic ability to make you forget he’s disabled.

– Visit his foundation’s site: Stand Up and Play Foundation

Have you tried the Paragolfer?

Watch the videos

Anthony explains why golfing standing up is so much better (it is!)

Anthony Netto’s story profiled on Golf Central USA TV

Anthony Netto swings over 250 meters long drive with Paragolfer

Wheelchair Art: Turning Your Wheels Into a Paintbrush


Creating art can be quite cathartic, especially if you’ve gone through a traumatic bodily experience like a spinal cord injury.  And while many people with spinal cord injuries have discovered painting post-injury, not many use their wheels as their paintbrush. It’s a very cool growing art however.

From a manual wheelchair-user creating thin lines with his wheels to a power wheelchair-user creating art with a more robust tire-track look, check out three videos below showing one of the coolest art forms to exist solely because of a wheelchair.

In our first video, meet renowned California artist, a paraplegic injured while motorcycling when he was 20. After his injury, cycling had to fall to the wayside but he picked up a new love post-injury – painting. But not just any old kind of painting; he paints with the wheels on his wheelchair, and his style is abstract expressionism.

In a video made by the University of Southern California for their “USC Impact” series, Martin shares his injury story and demonstrates how he paints with his wheelchair. In the video, he specifically talks about his process and how his painting style removes him from the work, letting the lines of his wheels speak for themselves. Watch Martin show his work to a teen with a disability visiting his studio

To see a device created specifically for painting using your wheelchair, but not with your wheels but by using the device, check out the Mobile Painting Device (MPD), created by artist Jeff Nachtigall from Saskatoon, Canada. It allows precise paints strokes via the joystick, with an arm attachment attached to a wheel on the floor. As you drive on the canvas, the out-jutting wheels create art.

Jeff himself is able-bodied too, but that didn’t stop him from creating this awesome device. What I like about this variation of painting with your wheelchair is that while others have used their own wheels to create art, this just uses the wheelchair as the handle of the paintbrush. Check out a time lapse of a massive painting done using the MPD

To see the most successful wheelchair “wheel painting” artist to ever exist, check out this video of Tommy Hollenstein on The Doctors. Tommy was injured 20 years ago in a mountain biking accident and only happened upon painting with his wheels because he wanted to capture the paw prints of his beloved and service dog, who sadly was aging.

After creating his first piece of work, he realized he had a talent and began to do it full time. Tommy has sold hundreds of paintings since starting his career, and has even had celebrity buyers such as Ringo Starr and Joaquin phoenix. Watch Tommy get profiled on The Doctors TV show

There are dozens of hobbies we discover after our injuries, painting is definitely one of them, but this by far has got to be one of the most ingenious. The mess however, now that’s a different story.

Have you created art with your wheels? Any examples of your own wheelchair art to share? 

Watch the videos about creative wheelchair art

Martin Vogel, a paraplegic, talks about his wheelchair art using his wheels to paint for USC

Jeff N, who paints with his powerchair to create wheelchair art, created The Mobile Painting Device

Tommy Hollenstein, a quad, showing his wheelchair art on The Doctors TV show

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