I am a woman with a disability. Years ago, before the polio vaccine, I contracted the polio virus which would leave me with limited use of my arms and legs.
My life has been pretty ordinary and normal, school, marriage, children, divorce, and a work life. That was until 1997 when I packed my suitcase, polished my wheelchair, and traveled to South Africa – alone!
I had been corresponding with a lady (Irene Joubert) in Pretoria, South Africa, for over a year. Then one day I had the idea of going to visit her. Not knowing how it would all happen, I purchased my ticket. This trip would be only my second trip on an airplane.
Little did I know how difficult and frustrating this trip would be for me. The airlines would need to transfer me from my wheelchair onto their aisle chair, and then from the aisle chair into my plane seat. And then reverse the procedure upon arrival.
The airlines require that two staff assist, one in front, and one in back of the passenger. They always lift under the arms. And that just doesn’t work for me. I found this procedure to be awkward for me, and for the airline staff.
So after returning home from South Africa I decided to design a sling to assist in airline transfers. With many calls, and several prototypes, the Pakkie was created. A product that weights 9 ounces, and will support over 300 pounds.
It requires two people to lift, and has eliminated the hassle for me. I am no longer being lifted under my arms, and the whole airline procedure is now so easy. I have the Pakkie on when I arrive at the airport.
The name Pakkie came about from a South African slang term for small package, and my Grandmother also use to tell me that my Dad use to “pack me” around when I was small. So the word “Pakkie” just seemed appropriate.
The Pakkie is now being sold to individuals, airlines, nursing homes, transportation systems, hospice staff, and rescue and evacuation services.
So what started out as an idea to make my life easier, has turned in
to a product to give freedom to others who need assistance.
If you have questions, or need more information, please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org