We Care Designs, LLC
The Para Ladder
Manual Lift
Meets ADA 2010 Pool Standards


René de la Tour:

Perseverance Prevails - A strong, athletic young man in 1966, René was [just] a college freshman when he suffered a spinal cord injury in a tragic auto accident. After 12 months of hospitalization, recovery, and intense rehabilitation, he returned home to rebuild his life. Undaunted by his paraplegia paralysis, he resumed college studies, earning an AA degree in Architectural Design from Delgado College in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A home designer for a Louisiana government agency, René established de la Tour Contractors in 1973. For almost two decades, his building and design firm constructed numerous high-end custom homes in the New Orleans area. René discovered that many older homes suffered from soil problems beneath the foundation, causing their slabs to crack, and ultimately, the houses to sink. So he developed the Aqua Level, a soil stabilization process. This method helped homes remain level in the unsettled soil conditions of New Orleans.

René continued his regimen of exercise and fitness. He developed skill in wheelchair training and racing and was chosen for the 1989 Olympic Developmental Team. That same year, René won five gold medals at the US National Meet. In 1990, he was on the team that represented the USA at the Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela. His proficiency and body conditioning helped him earn gold and silver medals for the USA. René maintained his competitive racing, completing his tour with the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1998.

During his 40 years as a paraplegic executive and leader, he has been involved in the limited mobility business arena. René played a leading role in New Orleans' installation of ramped curbs at street intersections and the creation of handicapped accessible public transit systems. He lobbied for handicapped license plates and the designation of handicapped parking spaces. He designed several devices to assist and enhance the lifestyles of those with limited mobility. For example, he invented a manually operated fishing rod and reel for a quadriplegic friend, and was delighted to see him independently catch a speckled trout. Long before they came into vogue, René developed a cup holder for his wheel chairs proving his talent for recognizing a need and designing a solution for it.

But fishing reels and cup holders are conveniences, not necessities. The excessive use of his arms caused René to require three rotator cuff surgeries by the year 2000. During the rehabilitation phase of his third shoulder surgery, when alone he fell out of the wheelchair on to his front lawn. Age and usage had taken their toll on his shoulders and he was unable to return safely to his chair without assistance. Sadly recognizing that his independent abilities had changed forever, he summoned his wife by cell phone.

When she came, they quickly learned two important things: 1) the mechanical lift he owned was not designed for floor transfers, and 2) she was not strong enough to pick him up. They considered calling 911, but pride froze his fingers. Ever the designer, Rene imagined what sort of device would allow him to keep his dignity and still get back in that wheelchair without the use of public resources.

The experience left him with a fear that the inevitable next fall could have tragic results. As common an occurrence as falls like these are for paraplegics. He thought that surely there must be some helpful device for floor transfers in existence. He searched for such an apparatus but found nothing. He also discovered that rehabilitation facilities and physical therapy clinics across the country were teaching paraplegics the same outdated and dangerous floor transfer methods he was taught forty years before. The need for a device was clearer than ever.

After four years of research, development, testing, and perfecting with the help of many healthcare professionals, the Para Ladder was born. Patented and ergonomically designed, it enables wheelchair users, as well as able-bodied individuals, to safely achieve a floor transfer with our manual lift, while maintaining pride and independence.
During the Para Ladder's testing phase, René discovered an unanticipated bonus. For the first time in his 10 month old son's life, Rene' could intentionally get to the floor to play with him. Christmas and many other fun occasions were shared with his child in a way he never thought possible. What a pleasure to enjoy swimming pools, hot tubs and boating - with independence and confidence. That pleasure is only surpassed by knowing how many others are given the same opportunity, thanks to the Para Ladder.

Knowing the vast number of people who need a manual floor lift device, René founded We Care Designs, LLC. He continues to design new products to assist people with special needs. He has patented a second innovative manual lift aid which he plans to market in 2008. While he has limited mobility, that certainly doesn't define him: René is a professional numismatist who has built some of the rarest US coin portfolio collections for clients in existence today.

We Care Designs' mission is to produce products that will assist individuals to live safely and independently. René de la Tour anticipates the day when the Para Ladder will be as universal for limited mobility customers as the walker is today.