Eric Walls, left, and Brad Parks side wheelie “formation flying” down a steep hill near the Quadra factory.

Eric Walls, left, and Brad Parks side wheelie “formation flying” down a steep hill near the Quadra factory.

Viewing a sleek red Quadra wheelchair demo my first day in the physical therapy gym was a milestone in helping me accept my T10 paralysis. The year was 1985 and at age 25, self-image was extremely important, especially since the folding wheelchairs of the time sent the message: “Patient — don’t touch.” Instead, the red Quadra broadcasted “performance,” “athlete,” “sexy,” “cool!” The PT gym became a mandatory stop when friends would visit me in rehab. “Check it out. This is the kind of chair I’ll be sitting in,” I’d say, a way of letting my friends know I’d be fine.

Quadra is the brainchild of Jeff Minnebraker, who was a recreation therapist at Rancho Los Amigos rehab in Downey, Calif. Minnebraker, an L1 paraplegic, was a licensed airplane pilot with a passion for engineering and a talent for thinking outside the box.

A competitive athlete, Minnebraker incorporated his aviation and engineering skills to build the first ever aluminum, rigid frame, high performance, lightweight adjustable chair. Weighing around 22 pounds, the chair gave him an advantage in sports, and a coolness factor that was coveted by other wheelers. In his continual quest to improve the form, performance and precision of the chair, Minnebraker earned at least 10 patents.

Through his rec therapy, coaching, and athletics, Minnebraker became a mentor for many wheelers. He was competitive in a variety of sports, including wheelchair racing and basketball, and he helpe