Alejandro Menéndez Finds Independence and Freedom with his RoughRider Wheelchair

At Whirlwind we love hearing from people whose lives have been changed by the RoughRider wheelchairs we are able to provide for them. When our rugged-terrain wheelchairs allow someone to gain a greater sense of independence and freedom, we know that we need to keep working and pushing forward to help those in need.

This is just how we felt when we heard from Alejandro, a Cuban gentleman who shared his story of what life was like before and after receiving his RoughRider. Prior to an accident that resulted in the amputation of both his legs, Alejandro had lived a very active life style. He struggled with many different types of wheelchairs over the years, unable to accomplish simple, everyday tasks and was dependent on other people to help him with his life. He also emphasized the time, energy and cost that was wasted due to the limitations of other wheelchairs he had owned.  He wrote to tell of his experience after receiving his Roughrider wheelchair, where he expresses how his life has been dramatically changed for the better.


Hola amigos,

My name is Alejandro D’Armas Menéndez. I live in Havana, Cuba. I’m 54 years old. I have a degree in Plastic Arts and Radio Amateur that I received 12 years ago. Both of my legs were amputated, one below and the other above the knee as a result of an automobile accident.  I never really found out, I was unaware of the existence of this company that manufactures wheelchairs before I met you. You came to me by chance.

About 2 months ago they told me in my health area to pick up a wheelchair that had arrived as a donation, with no more details than that. Prior to the accident, my life was the same as that of an ordinary Cuban. I did physical exercises, I danced, I swam, I walked long distances and did other outdoor activities, I climbed mountains, etc. and others. After the accident, my life became very difficult and complicated, I was dependent on other people for almost everything. In the 25 years that I have been using a wheelchair, my hands have passed over more than 11 different kinds of wheelchairs. 

The limitations to these other wheelchairs are gigantic and horrible,. I suffered a lot because I could not do what I liked the most. It was a lot of work spent many jobs to sit in them from any position, I spent a lot of energy to work or move. To climb or descend simple slopes or sidewalks, I had to be helped by someone. It took up more of my time and resources to repair the chair and make it into something I could use then time that could have been spent on doing things that were more useful.

The most common issues I experienced were the punctures of the tires. I was very limited because of the adverse conditions and situations that occurred almost daily. I had suffered and suffered so much that I hated the wheelchair I had been using with my whole being. 

One day I went to Havana’s Malecón and I thought to get rid of the chair I would throw it into the sea!…For a second I felt like I’d lost my he had lost my mind. I only held back when my conscience awoke and, I recovered. My reason and I did not find my legs.

Since receiving my RoughRider my life has changed radically. In the same moment that it was taken out of the box and was assembled, I felt an attraction very similar to love at first sight, really. My heart was beating strongly, my hands were sweating. I could smell the sweet the fruit of an unequaled and never before experienced a nervousness like I never known have before. 

Believe me, I do not exaggerate when I share this.

Now I can move everywhere, including the province of Mayabeque, covering a little more than 60-70 kilometers. With the confidence that I will not suffer from the bitter breakdowns with my chair. Now I can keep my hands cleaner.  My friends are also very happy every time they see me sitting in my Roughrider and with the joy on my face. Now I can go up and down the sidewalks without falling, now I can move regardless of the weather, or the quality of the streets or roads. A few days ago on a slope downhill and in free fall I reached around 10 km / h speed. Never before had I dreamed I could do this much less accomplish.

I find the Roughrider to be very safe, despite any sudden turns and crazy maneuvers that I oblige it to perform, it maintains it’s balance and stability; its wide rear tires, grip the asphalt very well in an incredible way. It is very light, with less than half the forces used to move in the previous ones. The Roughrider, breaks the inertia; occupies only the necessary space, neither more nor less, without reducing comfort; it even allows me to go through narrow places and tight spaces.

With my new Roughrider wheelchair I feel the safety, balance and comfort it offers me all at the same time.

Gracios my amigos,


Hearing from Alejandro and how his life has been changed by receiving a RoughRider wheelchair from Whirlwind is the reason we do the work we do. We look forward to continuing the work we do each day to help more people reach their dream of the freedom and independence they deserve!

Customizing and Ordering My Roughrider

Seat Width

To find the distance between your hips, first position yourself seated with pelvis upright on a firm surface. Then, measure the distance between the widest points of the hips and thighs without compressing any tissue. Finally, record your measurements. It is important not to have a chair that is wider than necessary as it will be harder to push and may prevent you from passing through narrow doorways.

Seat Depth

Position yourself seated upright on a firm surface. Measure the length of your upper leg, the distance from behind the knee to the back of the pelvis (back of your lower leg). Subtract 1/2” to find the maximum seat depth, to allow for space between the back of the knee/upper leg and seat fabric. Record the final measurement.

Backrest Height

Your preferred backrest height is determined by your personal comfort level and physical ability. Whirlwind recommends, generally, that the top of the back support should fall just beneath the bottom of the shoulder blade. For less active riders who require more torso support, the back support should be higher, falling just beneath the armpit. Position yourself seated upright on a firm surface. Hold your hands flat against the surface you are sitting on. Measure the distance from the seated surface to the desired, most comfortable point for support on your back. To this number add the height of your cushion when you are sitting on it. Record the measurement.

Preferred Backrest Angle

Backrest angles are determined by the torso control of the rider. Whirlwind recommends that those with less torso control, such as quadriplegics, sit with a backrest angled further backwards to avoid falling forward in a wheelchair. Those with more torso control, such as amputees, can sit with the backrest more upright. Proper backrest angle is best determined by an occupational therapist or healthcare professional. Although there is only one option – 8 degrees – in the drop-down list below, you can adjust the backrest angle by adjusting the backrest straps (i.e. looser at the bottom and tighter at the top for a more erect position).

Now please enter your measurements into the fields on the product page before ordering. For more information about measuring, please refer to the RoughRider Fitting Sheet. You are responsible for choosing the right chair for yourself. If you are uncomfortable with determining your wheelchair size, please consult a professional.