Hank Weseman, he was an outgoing, enthusiastic, and determined kid; he had to be. His dad was a Colonel in the Air Force, the family had to pick up and move frequently. With every move, Hank had to start all over making new friends and he does that easily!
During his teenage years, he got the itch for racing, speed, and powerful machines. It all started with the motorcycle his parents bought for him. At 14, Hank didnt have much money. Whenever the motorcycle needed service, he learned to take care of it and fix it. Other guys in school with him at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach would turn to him to help fix their
motorcycles too. Hank made a deal with a friend that raced motocross, free motorcycle repair in exchange for a ride to the track.
To fund the reality of his dream, Hank worked in a gas station, and then an auto parts store. Now he was now working on cars too. He graduated from Mira Costa in 1979 and planned on studying Aeronautical engineering to be an airline pilot. Ever the hotshot, a dirt bike accident gave the first twist in his lifes course and change in direction. After he recovered, he got a job moving furniture and supplemented the sporadic income with work in construction. Now he was making money and enjoying the physical work.
A friend took him water-skiing for the first time in a ski/race boat! He then attended a sanctioned drag boat race. The rush just watching those drag boats go 100 to 200 mph on the water was unbelievable.
He was hooked he had to race.
Racing and machines cost money. In 1984, Hank took and passed the California P.U.C test which is required to be a licensed moving and storage company. With the help of his mom and dad, he bought his own moving truck, set up his moving business, and hired a helper. Within two short years he had the funds to buy his own race ski boat. Hank began racing his boat and worked his way up through the ranks.
In 1991, he was discovered by another boat owner and was asked to drive his top-notch race boat named "Uptight" in the pro gas flat class. In November of 1991 he covered the ¼-mile in 7.25 seconds at 139 mph, the fastest time in his class. Hank had made it.
His moving business was now three trucks and 10 employees strong, and housed in a 3000 square foot storage space.
Things were looking good then tragedy struck.
March 1, 1992, the first race of the season. On a small lake just east of Bakersfield, Hank was in anticipation and ready for the season opener, the National Jet Boat Associations professional drag boat racing event. These drag boats are 18 feet, 6 inches in length and made of fiberglass. Their engines produce 1,000+ horsepower as they race two at a time at speeds
exceeding 140 mph!
Before the race, Weseman felt confident that the conditions were right to "go for it". As the boat hit full speed, the rear of the boat lifted. Hank fought to regain control; the boat went airborne and out of control at 140 mph. He was thrown from the boat headfirst into the concrete-like water; his head was snapped back damaging the brain stem, the bodys main control center. His brain could no longer communicate with his body. Paramedics plucked him from the water. Hank was in a coma for 7 days and spent a full month on life support. Gone was the ability to breathe, eat, walk, and talk.
Life as he once knew it was changed forever.
Rehabilitation for an accident this severe is a life long reality, now using a wheelchair and in therapy, he can walk with a walker. Speech has come back and mobility is coming back. Hank is determined, but not without a lot of hard work and support from his family and friends. Hank isnt about disability; he is all ability and what he CAN do. He wants to get on with life and strives to enable other wheelchair users to pursue their activities and experience enhanced mobility.
As a result of the accident, Hank was forced to close his moving business, but you cant keep him down, he has started another based on his idea. He loves the beach, but wheelchairs were not designed for sand. In his garage he tinkered on his invention "The Beachcomber" until he got it right. He now has a shop where he manufactures the "Beachcomber," and other products.
Most wheelchair users are fitted to their chairs. The Beachcomber is a lightweight aluminum chassis with special wheels that most manual wheelchairs will attach to. It folds up and is easy to transport, even on an airplane. The Beachcomber is better designed and priced substantially less than other beach chairs on the market. He is ever designing products to help provide mobilization and freedom.
Best of all, Weseman feels the needs of his customers; he can relate.