Chuck Bode has been a part of the Chehalis community for more than 35 years. It is his home and his community. He raised two sons there with his wife Connie and owned several successful, local businesses throughout Lewis County. He loves skiing, outdoor adventures and his family. And he is paralyzed.

Two and a half years ago, the active, then 62-year-old Bode got sick. His illness was a mystery to his doctors. When an intense infection was finally determined to be the cause, Chuck and his doctors fought as hard as they could. Ultimately, his life was saved, but the infection morphed into staph and attacked his spinal cord, leaving Chuck paralyzed from the shoulders down. His specific diagnosis is T7 C1 quadriplegic, and while he retains function of his shoulders, arms and hands, he now uses a wheelchair full time.

Chuck Bode
Chuck Bode (in pink) with his son Bill Bode and three grandaughters, knows he couldn’t have gotten where he is today without his family’s support. Photo courtesy: Chuck Bode

For the active senior and his family, the road ahead was daunting. After many months in the hospital and rehab, he came home. With the tremendous support of his wife, family and friends, along with his unwavering determination to live a full life, Chuck began to get better. He started to regain some movement in his feet and has worked tirelessly in his physical therapy sessions and at the gym.

“What you get back is what you put in,” Chuck says. He’s putting his all into recovery. While he knows he’s not likely to summit mountain peaks or backcountry ski again, Chuck also knows his limitations are set only by him. With a can-do spirit and fierce drive to improve, he attacks his physical therapy sessions and adheres to an aggressive workout schedule at the local gym, Thorbeckes Fitlife Centers.

Chuck’s wife, Connie, has been his number one support, but life does move forward. Connie, a senior vice president and branch manager at the Chehalis Columbia Bank, can’t always be around when Chuck needs to head to the gym, a doctor’s appointment or just do a few errands around town. As he is unable to drive (yet!!), Bode has come to rely on Twin Transit’s Paratransit services.

Twin Transit Services for the Disabled
Twin Transit paratransit busses, like this one operated by driver Debbie Lytle, give disabled riders freedom and independence. Photo courtesy: Twin Transit

Twin Transit is the public transit provider for the cities of Centralia and Chehalis, and offers fixed route and paratransit service throughout the community. Paratransit is a federally mandated service that all transit agencies must provide for passengers who have mobility limitations which prevent reasonable access to the fixed route system.  Chuck was told about the service in the hospital and was quick to give them a call once he was home.

Donna Gauger, Twin Transit’s paratransit coordinator, is the first line of connection for riders needing modified service. Donna initiates a needs assessment, meeting personally with each client in their homes to understand their needs, capabilities and survey their neighborhood for access limitation.

“In Chuck’s case, lack of sidewalks and curb cuts in his neighborhood make it difficult to get to and from a bus stop. Chuck also uses a manual wheelchair and it would be difficult to self-propel his wheelchair the distance to the closest bus stop,” she explains.

Twin Transit
Donna Gauger is the paratransit coordinator at Twin Transit and the first contact for every paratransit user. Photo courtesy: Twin Transit

For Chuck, getting around independently isn’t simply a convenience, it’s a necessity. “Those wonderful people in my life who help me can only do so much, and I only want them to do so much,” he shares. “Using paratransit allows me to be more independent, to feel more like myself.”

Chuck is a near-daily user of the service. Gary Kidd, Chuck’s regular driver, picks him up at home each weekday morning and takes him to Thorbecke’s and back. It’s here he works tirelessly to improve his strength and conditioning. Two to three days a week, Chuck again rolls onto Gary’s bus and is back at the gym to swim in the pool.

“It’s a really big deal for me. Paratransit gets me to the gym on a consistent basis and it’s that consistency that is making a huge difference in my recovery,” he says. “When you are in my condition, you have no idea what you can and can’t do or what your abilities will become. No doctor can tell you that for sure. By working hard each day, I’m doing things I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again and I couldn’t get there, do the work, without paratransit.”

Twin Transit
Paratransit driver Gary Kidd, seen here with 97-year-old rider Thelma Holt, has developed a friendship with Chuck Bode during their daily rides to and from the gym. Photo courtesy: Twin Transit

In addition to his daily gym visits, Chuck calls on paratransit for doctor’s appointments, trips to the physical therapist or simply a quick run to Rite Aid. “There’s not a month that goes by that I am not reminded by Chuck how much he appreciates the transportation service we provide him. Our service allows him to travel independently throughout the area for any purpose,” says Gauger.

With Chuck’s dedication to his workouts, and to his independence, he’s developed a relationship with Gauger and a strong one with Kidd.

“I’ve had the pleasure of transporting Chuck to and from Thorbecke’s daily,” shares Kidd. “He is a person who doesn’t know the words ‘give up.’ He is a true inspiration. He has goals he is trying to achieve. Some he has already reached and others he is still going for. He once told me a young girl came up to him and said, ‘You are not disabled, you just can’t walk!’ and that is how Chuck sees it. If he can’t do it one way, he will figure out another way to get it done. I’m glad to have him as a client and call him a friend.”

Chuck’s determination combined with the unwavering support of Connie, his family and friends have gotten him far down the recovery road. And, Twin Transit’s paratransit service is helping him the rest of the way. “I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me,” he says. “Paratransit has helped me dramatically and I know I can count on them every day.”

To learn more about Twin Transit’s Paratransit services, contact Donna Gauger at 360-330-5555 or visit them online.


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