"You should have seen the smile on Chris' face when he first tried the e-trike," Sarah Barry said.

It was a smile of possibility, of independence and relief.

An electric trike modified specifically for Chris Barry, Sarah's son, by Brian Gilbert of Trikes NZ in Levin which attaches to his wheelchair giving him the ability to bike further than a couple of kilometres at a time.

Mobility means independence, and independence means a job.

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The only catch? The $15,000 price tag.

Chris and his identical twin brother Michael were born with cerebral palsy.

However, only Chris is confined to a wheelchair and the milestones have started getting further and further apart for the two brothers, now aged 23.

Michael, Sarah and Chris Barry (front) trying out an e-trike for Chris. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Michael, Sarah and Chris Barry (front) trying out an e-trike for Chris. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Struggling to get a job, Chris is impacted everyday by his inability to get places easily.

Hearing about e-trikes by fellow wheelchair rugby player Gavin Rolton, "I heard about them from Gavin and I just want one to get outside," Chris said.

A dedicated wheelchair rugby player, Chris plays every week for the Wellington team, training in Porirua.

Raised solely by Sarah who works during the day, for Chris to get places his options are wheeling himself which takes a lot of time and effort, catching bus - only some of which have the ability to kneel and pick up a wheelchair, or take a taxi which is expensive even with a Total Mobility card.

"At the moment I'm at home all the time.

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"I've found it quite hard getting a job especially as it has to be close by."

Chris is hoping getting an e-trike will give him more options but needs help raising the money.

Michael and Chris Barry playing wheelchair rugby for Wellington.
Michael and Chris Barry playing wheelchair rugby for Wellington.

"I spend my time going to the gym, and when I'm not there or at wheelchair rugby I'm at home.

"It would be cool to be able to get the e-trike, it would mean freedom."

Michael also has cerebral palsy but his mobility is less impacted, with it limiting his movement down one side of his body as opposed to Chris' which has immobilised both his legs.

"I think up until now, all through school it's been fine," Sarah said.

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"It's now they're out of school that the differences have grown.

"Michael can get a job, he can get a normal car to take himself, whereas everything else is harder for Chris.

"It's hard because people ask him what he wants to do, but you don't often see people in wheelchairs working as they're often in the jobs behind the scenes.

"It would also be nice for him to be able to go just that little bit further.

"Living so close to the cycleway, I cycle it all the time and it would be so nice to go for a ride with him as it's so safe and wide."

Chris Barry trying out an e-trike. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Chris Barry trying out an e-trike. Photo / Rosalie Willis

But the e-trike comes at a cost.

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Over the years many things have been modified for Chris to make living as easy as possible.

But as he gets older the cost is adding up and everything he needs is getting more expensive.

"We've found now that we're older, Chris needs more expensive things - like a car to be independent.

"He got his restricted licence using a car that someone had modified for him but that cost us a lot of money.

"It's not just a normal car to drive because it needs to be operated solely by hand, and there were a lot of lessons to get to that point.

"Now we've been quoted the cost for a modified car but that's big money."

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Costing around $45,000 for a car, getting an e-trike is the first step that feels manageable for the family.

"The trike is a clip-on unit to his wheel chair which can be removed without Chris moving from his wheelchair," said Trikes NZ's Brian Gilbert.

"Some of the components are expensive, with some needing to be imported and many being modified in out workshop.

"We don't use cheaper components as we need reliability - they are made to last many years."

"I've had a lot of help from people - from my mum and brothers but now I really just want independence to get a job," Chris said.

Creating a Givealittle page, Chris wrote, "I'm reaching out to you to help my family and I fundraise for this.

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"I would be very excited and humbled to receive any donation possible."

The family are also holding a fundraiser at the Jolly Pub in Paraparaumu on September 23 (level 1 permitting) with raffles, bingo and an auction to raise money.

For tickets please call Sarah Barry on 027 292 0696 or visit the Givealittle page here to help the family buy the e-Trike.

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