Quality of Life Grants Spotlight: Cutting Fences Foundation

For Kendra Lewis launching the Cutting Fences Foundation (CFF) offered the ideal opportunity to bring together two of her greatest passions: agriculture and helping others.

cutting fences foundation

Lewis started the foundation in 2022, after the capstone project for her occupational therapy doctorate from Rocky Mountain College helped lay the groundwork. The organization serves individuals working in agriculture who are living with disabilities through advocacy, education and work to eliminate barriers in daily activities.

“One out of every six Montanans is employed in an agricultural-related job, and there is a need to ensure those living with a disability can participate fully in their work,” says Lewis. “Access to adaptive equipment not only increases the ability to work independently but also increases quality of life through access to outdoor leisure activities.”

In 2023, CFF received a $25,000 Direct Effect Quality of Life Grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to purchase an Action Trackchair, a power wheelchair with tracks rather than wheels, to enable accessibility to nearly all terrains. It can also go from sitting to standing, allowing a person to complete tasks like fixing fencing.

The chair is part of CFF’s growing agricultural-specific adaptive equipment loan closet. The grant also provided for a trailer to transport the Trackchair. Lewis hopes to add adaptive ATVs, agricultural equipment lift systems, adaptive livestock handling tools and more.

“Borrowing adaptive equipment gives people time to see if a specific thing works for them while also allowing them to get back to working,” says Lewis. “I hope to have enough equipment to never have to turn anyone away.”

A rancher in Roy, MT, was the first to reserve the Trackchair before it even arrived in the state. The equipment allowed him to go on walks with his granddaughter, mow his lawn, catch, walk and saddle his horse and spray weeds in his pastures. The standing feature also improved his quality of life, enabling him to shake hands at eye level and stand to renew his wedding vows.

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"Just knowing there are people that really care makes me want to work more and harder to get better,” said the rancher who became paralyzed after having COVID, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and several other immune system complications. “Standing next to my horse and being able to brush him was such a feeling like I'd never had before. I never cried much, but that made me cry." 

The Action Trackchair has also proven to be a great rehab tool for the rancher. It has enabled him to regain more function by challenging him to be in the standing position longer while out on his ranch. He is now able to do a sit-to-stand motion without any support.

The chair’s second borrower used the chair to visit a favorite fishing hole that he and his wife had not been able to access since he had a spinal stroke. Next, the chair went to a young man who used it to go on a family trip to a pumpkin patch and hiking around lake.

"The joy he had left an image in my mind and heart I will not forget,” said the third chair user’s mother and caregiver. “It seems so small, just to want to do what others take for granted, but at times, it is everything. Thank you for the experience." 

To help spread awareness of adaptive equipment and raise funds to build the program, Lewis has showcased the Trackchair at seven events across the state. Her ultimate goal is to hold a fundraising event and serve at least one person in every Montana county.

“The Reeve Foundation has funded three other grants in the state, and all have been incredibly impactful,” says Lewis. “We have been grateful to spread awareness about all of the good that the Reeve Foundation does for this population. This grant helped get CFF’s mission off the ground. We are so thankful to the Reeve Foundation for making this possible.”

About the Author - Reeve Staff

This blog was written by the Reeve Foundation for educational purposes. For more information please reach out to information@christopherreeve.org

Reeve Staff

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.