From Jura to the Mediterranean with the wheelchair

The world is full of adventures, which are only waiting to be discovered and experienced. The foundation Expéhandicap supports people with disabilities, who have plans to flee from the daily grind, to live out their very own personal adventure.

“Appetite for adventure means: a big Yes to life and a small No to society”, is a quote from the German film critic Georg Seesslen. For Rachel Mougin, the appetite for adventure is a long cherished dream. A dream that the 24 year old French woman fulfilled in September 2007. The spasitic tetraplegic drove with her electric wheelchair from the hills of Jura in the Canton of Neuenburg (Newcastle) in Switzerland to the Mediterranean coast in the south of France.

No “off the shelf” adventure
It took Rachel a year to prepare for this adventure. She was supported in the process by Expéhandicap. The foundation helped her search for sponsorship and other financing possibilities, organisation of the transport, planning the route, logistics, support during the expedition as well as with public relations (Website, pictures, press releases etc.)

Jean-Philippe Patthey (Picture: Jean-Philippe Patthey)
Jean-Philippe Patthey (Picture: Jean-Philippe Patthey)

Jean-Philippe Patthey does not however offer any pre-cooked adventures, which one only needs to apply for. “The initiative must come from the disabled person”, says Jean-Philippe Patthey, founder and president of the foundation. “The person with the handicap must prepare their adventure themselves. We just provide the know-how”.

Dog-sled ride in Canada
Adventures are also Jean-Philippe Patthey’s main passion. He completed for example the Paris-Dakar stretch by Shank’s mare and crossed the continent of Australia on a sail buggy. For a different adventure – for the Swiss based South Africanican born Mike Horn – he organised in 2002 all the logistics to circumnavigate the North Pole.

Some years earlier Patthey organised another expedition, which would influence him for a long time. He was en route in Canada with eleven disabled people with snowmobiles and dog sleds. For his 50th birthday in 2001 he invited the participants and helpers from that expedition to a party and used the opportunity to call to life the foundation Expéhandicap. “That seemed to make more sense that letting myself be lavished with gifts”, noted Patthey.

Rachel Mougin en-route heading south (Picture: Rachel Mougin)
Rachel Mougin en-route heading south (Picture: Rachel Mougin)

Adventure on your own doorstep
Rachel Mougin’s adventure was the first project from Expéhandicap – and should not be the last. “I became several project ideas, but receive no official request”, explained Jean-Philippe Patthey. It doesn’t have to be a hair-raising, life or death undertaking. “There are also adventures right on your own doorstep” says Patthey convincingly.

Author: phi 12/2007-myh

Translation: PmcC

Photo: provided by courtesy