On a quiet Saturday morning, a white pickup truck towing a trailer makes its way passively through Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility’s parking lot. Standing by to greet the travelers are Master Horticulturist, Kent Titze, and Hacienda Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations, Sierra Kamela.
Chad Dietz and his four young sons, ranging from 11 to 17 years old, made an early morning trip from California to deliver a very special gift to Hacienda’s residents—a gift arranged by Hacienda’s generous benefactors, Kent and his fellow Rotarians of the Squaw Peak Rotary Club.
After a warm welcome, a few hearty breakfast burritos, and some instructions, Chad and his sons—Eric, Isaiah, Michael, and Luke—make short work of unloading the precious cargo from the trailer.
The Dietz family worked like clockwork. And though they hit a snag when they realized that the concrete on the eastern patio of the skilled nursing facility wasn’t level, a quick solution moved the project along.
By lunch time, Chad and his sons had fully assembled the metal and fine redwood pieces into a beautiful work of art. The final result, a beautiful gliding wheelchair swing for Hacienda’s residents to enjoy.
Though Chad is a master metal sculptor and artist, he’s also a dedicated family man with a special heart for those with special needs.
Chad, his wife Sami, and their nine children—seven of whom are adopted—live on 10 acres of land in California’s central coast. Here, the boys are home-schooled and actively share in caring for the horses, chickens, and produce that thrive on their land.
Chad talks freely about his sons and how proud he is of them. Though each one of his adopted children has experienced some type of special need or disability in the past, “their eyes are focused on the future.”
Luke, the leader of the brothers, aspires to become a commercial airline pilot or drone pilot. Michael is interested in law enforcement. Daniel, the oldest, is an EMT and has his sight set on medical school. The two youngest boys are unsure, but enjoy motorcross riding and, not surprisingly, playing video games.
Although Chad’s family, his business, and art keep him busy, he makes time to practice his faith. Chad and his wife hold an open-house Bible study once a week in their home, and he also preaches at a nearby church.
A friend shared a message of redemption through Christ that changed his life and his future. He reflected on his past life as a drug-addicted biker and the choices he made that could have sent him to an early grave. Today, Chad and his wife continue their mission to love and help those in need.
Besides being a dad, a teacher, an artist, a farmer, and a preacher, Chad is in the business of making smiles. He combines his artistic skill with compassion for special needs children and adults to create customized gliding wheelchair swings.
These swings are fabricated with sculpted metal, cut redwood and high quality components. Each swing is designed with easy access and safety for children and adults who spend most of their awake time in wheelchairs.
The inspiration for the wheelchair swings came from Chad’s sister and her daughter, Mary Clara. Mary Clara was born with cerebral palsy.
When Chad realized that his 10-year-old niece had never been on a swing, he channeled his skill to build his first wheelchair swing. It was a big hit for Mary Clara and the family.
Much of Chad’s creative work had been for oil companies in Alaska and for clients in the Carmel/Pebble Beach and San Francisco areas. The projects he worked on pale in comparison to the joy he gets from creating a swing.
“The wheelchair swing is the most fulfilling piece of artwork I have ever done. Nothing matches the joy I get from seeing the smile on people’s faces the first time they try the swing,” says Chad.
This holds true for Hacienda. Three years ago, Chad and his sons transported and installed Hacienda’s first wheelchair swing. And without fail, when the first client was wheeled onto the swing, the smiles and giggles were infectious. It was a moment that no one present will soon forget.
When the weather is temperate, Hacienda’s staff moves clients outdoors to take turns gliding on the swing. Thanks to the Squaw Peak Rotary Club and their fundraising efforts, Hacienda has received three wheelchair swings for all of Hacienda’s clients and residents to enjoy.
Since Chad’s first visit to Hacienda, he and his sons have traveled all over the United States to deliver and install these wheelchair swings. Chad and his sons delivered six swings to South Carolina recently—a wonderful cross-country trip that included camping in tents—and there is no sign that they’ll be stopping soon.
It was a great pleasure to get to know the Dietz family. Thank you Chad and sons for sharing your story, and thank you Squaw Peak Rotary for making smiles at Hacienda.