Local veteran stands for others who can't

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG) - At a local golf course in Panama City Beach James “Tip” Tipton stands a chance.

James "Tip" Tipton uses a stand-up wheelchair to play golf and other activities. (WJHG)

“It really is my legs, if you will. And as you can see, this chair allows me to stand, which it's pretty dramatic,” said Tipton.

Tipton is a paraplegic. A car accident 11 years ago took away his ability to walk.

“As a paraplegic, you can stand up in this and you can work with bone density. It allows circulation in the body for blood flow. You can use it for your digestive tract, for urinary and bowel program. There's many, many uses stretching out the body. Our body was designed to stand up over 66 percent of the day,” said Tipton.

The "this" is a stand up wheelchair, a chair that props up its user.

“Many of us are used to seeing people in wheelchairs, and what we do is as we present this chair to amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics, basically we're giving them their legs back and giving them the opportunity to stand and hence the name Stand Up and Play,” said Tipton.

Stand Up and Play is the foundation that provides the chair. It gave away 46 chairs across the country in 2019

“We go across the country, raise money and get the chairs for other amputees, paraplegics, [and] veterans,” said Tipton.

And Tipton is the local director.

“I need to help other people," said Tipton. "I need to help other veterans get better and get in a better place in their life.”

And that has served as his driver, no pun intended.

“I helped a marine get in a chair," said Tipton. "He didn't stand for 11 years. He just grabbed me, hugged me, and started crying and said, 'Brother, thank you!' He says I haven't stood for 11 years and that feeling and the power and the energy that you get from somebody like that and knowing what it did for me, it's so rewarding.”

The chair runs about $28,000.

“You can shoot archery in this chair. You can shoot a pistol, rifle. You can literally use this chair to go on the beach. You can use it to work in your garage, painting your house,” said Tipton.

But stand up play aims to provide them at no charge.

“Interesting thing, when I stand up in this chair is this straps me in at all the break points, at the feet, the knees, the waist, and the chest,” said Tipton.

Tipton has been in his chair for two years, but does dream of one day navigating the fairways like he used to.

“I'm never gonna give up," said Tipton. "One day I hope to walk again, you know, through stem cell replacement, different exoskeletons, etc. I'm never going to give up hope.”

And it's that attitude, many will tell you, that's par for the course for Tipton.

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