WDEL's Delaware Stories
with Mellany Armstrong

Personal illness spawns invention

Personal illness spawns a creative solution to a hot problem.

Chuck Spinelli was sitting in his wheelchair back in May 2010 on the boardwalk at the beach.

"I kind of got an epiphany as a convoy of wheelchairs, oddly enough, passed right by me as I'm looking out into the ocean," he said.

The Ardmore, Pa., inventor, who has Parkinson's disease, came up with something he calls the 'Comfort Canopy.'

"There are so many people in the world who need a chair for their existence just to get around, and cannot remove themselves from the chair, what do they do in event of these temperatures? And that's how it came about, I went home, made a few drawings," he said.

So, how does it work?

"You strap it to the back of the chair. It comes up over the head., and it shields the user from direct sunlight and maybe even a little light rain."

"It has various heights available with telescoping vertical supports to accommodate all size individuals," he said.

And it has a built-in solar-powered fan.

"Hit the button, a little blast of cool as you're rolling along, powered by the sun. It's a nice little touch," he said.

Spinelli says manufacturers are looking at his idea. He says it can also be used on strollers.

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