12-year-old Explores New Worlds with Donated Track Chair

Posted on in VGM News

By Mike McGill, VGM Marketing

It’s been more than eight months since 12-year-old Alec Gotto inspired a nation when he led his 1,556 pound steer, JD (short for John Deere) in his power wheelchair to win not only the People’s Choice Award, but the hearts of many new friends during the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Since, Alec’s supporters have been on a mission to raise enough funds to purchase a power wheelchair with tracks so he can show his cattle in any terrain and without the assistance of others. 

On March 21, Alec’s wishes came true. VGM Group, in collaboration with Total Respiratory and Rehab, donated a custom-built track chair to Alec at his home in rural Dyersville, Iowa.

Alec gives his track chair a workout with his steer Spade as his dad, Chad, follows behind.

“We saw Alec’s story and knew we needed to reach out and help,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, a division of VGM Group, Inc. “It’s an honor to present Alec with a new all-terrain chair so he can explore new worlds and go anywhere his heart desires. His new chair is custom built to accommodate his needs around the farm and in the show ring. It’s also the only track chair with this very special paint scheme.”       

The new chair, a TrackMaster MK-1, features a green and yellow paint scheme, dual one-horsepower electric motors, custom seating system, 47-inch-long tracks, and a wide base to provide even more stability. It also features twin, 900-lumen LED floodlights to help Alec, also known as “The Cow Whisperer,” navigate around the farm day or night.

Alec is surrounded by a lot of love from his mom, Carrie (gray sweatshirt); dad, Chad (in the cap); and siblings, along with (left to right) Mike Thuesen, VGM; Tom Powers, VGM; Greg Packer, VGM; Jason Baedke, ATP, Total Respiratory and Rehab; John Gallagher, VGM; Heather Trumm, VGM; and Mike McGill, VGM.

“Alec's new chair will help him get around the farm and other places he couldn't go before,” said Carrie Gotto, Alec’s mother. “Now, we won't have to worry about him tipping over, and he will be able to maneuver through the wood chips and not be dependent on someone to help him. This will give him so much independence.”   

VGM donated the TrackMaster chair, and the freight and labor to install the custom upgrades was covered by Nebraska-based Total Respiratory and Rehab, a VGM and U.S. Rehab member. Money raised through the Tracks for Alec fundraising efforts paid for the upgrades.

“This project was a collaboration of a number of Alec’s supporters,” continued Packer. “We’re ecstatic that Alec’s wish has been granted. That smile when he was leading ‘Spade’ up the hill was everything.”

Several local media outlets covered Alec’s special day. Click here to view the story shared by NBC affiliate KWWL News.