Donation brings second track chair to state parks
A donation to the state wildlife foundation is kicking off an effort to make state parks more accessible.
The money will go towards a motorized track chair and trailer at the Sioux Falls Outdoor campus. It comes from the family of Cathy Peterson, a resident of Salem, who was an avid pheasant hunter.
The gift is part of “Operation: Mobility.” It's a fundraising effort to purchase chairs to be used by disabled residents in state parks and outdoor areas.
Michael Samp began pursuing the initiative after his experience with the state's first track chair, located at the Rapid City Outdoor Campus. Samp reserved the chair for his father during a 2020 trip to Custer State Park.
He said the chair allowed his father, Sioux Falls lawyer Rolly Samp, to fish for the first time in ten years despite a medical condition limiting his mobility.
“It was one of the most meaningful and impactful events in my father’s life,” he said. “[That] motivated me to undertake this effort for other families to be able to continue the traditions they’ve established, whether it be opening day of pheasant season, deer season, hunting and hiking, or fishing, so that all have access to the outdoors.”
About 12% of South Dakotans have a disability according the 2021 American Community Survey. Samp said that excludes a large portion of South Dakotans from the outdoors.
“[They] have to give up their hunting, their fishing, their hiking that they’ve done for years,” he said. “This is a way for us to reintroduce that population to their favorite activities and be a part of South Dakota’s biggest asset.”
Samp wants to fundraise enough for 29 more chairs for locations across the state. Eventually he hopes to integrate the reservation process into the Game Fish and Parks’ Go Outdoor system.
Currently, reservations can be made by contacting Outdoor Campus locations in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.