Chris Kaag, a Marine veteran from Reading, Pennsylvania was in for a big surprise Saturday night at Florida Georgia Line’s concert in Camden.
Chris received a brand new all-terrain wheelchair from the country music duo and the Independence Fund – a non-profit that helps empower wounded veterans like him. Because of this gift, he is now ready to take on more adventures and some newfound freedom.
For Chris, being in the Marines is everything. He joined the Marine Corps at age 17, following his father, grandfather and uncle’s footsteps.
“My dad, my grandfather, my uncle, then my brother after me were all Marines, so it was something that I always wanted to do since I was 8-years-old,” Chris said.
However, in 1997, Chris noticed something was off. He was dragging his feet while walking and had had weakness in his hips. After undergoing a spinal tap, electric stimulation tests and several blood tests to determine what caused the lack of mobility in his legs, he was diagnosed with Adrenomyeloneuropathy, or AMN — a degenerative disorder that affects the spinal cord and nervous system.
Chris was placed in the Wounded Warrior platoon in March 1998 until his separation from the Marine Corps in February 1999.
But that didn’t stop him from serving as he is now coaching others to overcome their challenges through physical fitness.
“I want people to focus on the people around them. That’s the thing that saved me. I don’t have time to worry about my challenges; I wanna get out there and help as many people as I can,” he said.
Now, with the all-terrain wheelchair, he will be able to continue serving in new ways and explore new territories.
Florida Georgia Line invited Chris onto the stage while the crowd cheered him on and starting chanting “U.S.A,” as seen in the video below provided by the Independence Fund.
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“Last night was a night that I will never forget,” Chris said.
He will be able to “get out there” even more with the new wheelchair.
“The places you can go are unmatched, so I’m really looking forward to getting my son out there and doing some things with my wife.”
Chris says he is looking forward to hitting some trails and blazing the national parks.
“It’s something that can provide me access to woods and all kinds of places that you can you really can’t do in a regular wheelchair,” he added.