March 2023
by Jack Payne and Cloie Tucker

One of our favorite Adventure quotes is “If everything went right, it would be a vacation. I don’t want a vacation. I want an adventure.” For the Payne family, they were able to experience both sides before their Adventure was over.

Jack Payne was diagnosed with ALS in 2020. Originally approved for an adventure in 2022, the family had to cancel at the last minute. When Jack was ready to travel, they reapplied for an even bigger adventure. A Grand adventure, if you will.

“Jack has always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and has never gotten the chance in life to travel,” wrote his wife, Cloie, in their application. “Being able to see the Grand Canyon would be a life memory created with Jack before ALS takes him from us. I would love more than anything to see Jack have this one last dream come true.”

Flying with his Permobil Wheelchair for the first time, the trip from Tennessee to Phoenix started smoothly.

“American Airlines went above and beyond in accommodating me by rearranging three seats to give me more room to stretch out and move around,” said Jack. “The accommodations were wonderful and in great locations.”

Staying in Phoenix, Jack and Cloie loaded up in their wheelchair van rented from Ability Center, and drove through red rock country to the Grand Canyon.

“It was the grand vacation of a lifetime, and I finally got to see everything I’d always dreamed of the Grand Canyon,” said Jack. “Also, the breathtaking view, breathtaking drive, and breathtaking scenery will always be in my heart and mind.”

Once they arrived safely back at their hotel, the effects of extreme weather on the east and west coast caused the Payne’s flights to be canceled.

Their new flights were not going to work. Since Jack was flying with his full power wheelchair, the new planes that they were put on were not big enough to store the chair. 

American Airlines customer service was able to work with Team Gleason to get them on a new flight with Delta, going above and beyond to get them out as soon as possible. That meant another day of rest in Phoenix. The Payne’s friends and family were able to watch their beloved dog another night. Ability Center was able to extend their van rental, even coming to the airport at 3 a.m. on a Saturday to pick it up. AZ MediQuip was able to push back their pick up of their Hoyer lift rental. 

Even with all the flight challenges, the Payne’s were able to come home after meeting a new lifetime friend on the plane and new memories.

“Seeing the Grand Canyon was a lifetime dream,” said Jack. “The dream allowed me to see a place that many never have the chance, especially with ALS. The fun times and incredible memories. I will cherish them forever.”