Wounded vet gets new wheelchair: 'This means independence'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- It's hard to sneak up on a paratrooper.

So Andrew Pike knew something was afoot when Gov. Butch Otter graciously offered to give the wounded Iraq war veteran, who lost the use of his legs, a tour of the state capitol building.

The governor-guided tour quickly arrived in the rotunda where a surprise was waiting: a $19,000 tracked wheelchair, a gift to allow Pike, who loves to hunt and fish, better access to the outdoors.

"This chair means independence," Pike said. "There are areas I couldn't go before -- hills, sand, even mud, when going out shooting that can stop me from doing what I want to do."

Pike was serving with the famous 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq when he was shot by a sniper and suffered severe nerve damage.

"When I was shot in Iraq in '07, the bullet entered my lower abdomen, and exited my back about an inch off my spinal cord and column," said Pike, who is originally from the Twin Falls area.

The tracked chair was paid for by a small army of contributors.
Pike was deeply humbled by the gift, and a little embarrassed by all the attention.

But the young man, who has overcome so much, deserves every inch of wide-open space his new wheels can provide.