KENNEWICK -- Becky Kreckel's world became smaller when she lost a leg to peripheral artery disease three years ago.
She still could do most things, just with a little more effort, but she had to leave her jobs cleaning hotel rooms and bartending.
And with only a manual wheelchair to get around, Kreckel was homebound unless her husband or a friend was available to take her somewhere.
She regained a little more of the world -- and a whole lot of independence -- on Wednesday when Kennewick company SafeStrobe Inc., gave Kreckel her first motorized wheelchair.
The chair also comes with the first prototype of the company's signature product -- a retractable strobe light designed to help wheelchair users be more visible to drivers when they're outside.
Art Clement, inventor of the SafeStrobe light, and Wendy Simpson, a co-founder of the company, said they immediately thought of Kreckel when they had a prototype ready.
Simpson, at one time, owned the apartment building where Kreckel lives with her husband, Gregg Chambers. Simpson said she and the couple became good friends, and she knew Kreckel had a need for what SafeStrobe has to offer.
"It was a good fit," Simpson said.
Simpson said she hopes the new power wheelchair helps Kreckel achieve a degree of independence she hasn't had since her leg had to be amputated in 2008.
Having a motorized chair means Kreckel can leave her Kennewick apartment without having to depend on someone else.
It's a simple privilege that means everything to her.
"This is going to help a lot," Kreckel said. "Thank god for Wendy."
Her first trip is to ride around the block to Safeway, just for the pleasure of shopping.
SafeStrobe next plans to install eight of the remaining 19 prototypes on wheelchairs belonging to paralyzed veterans in Burien.
The device will be available for order starting in September through the company's website at safestrobe.com, and also will be sold through home medical supply companies, which Clement said will be trained aobout how to install the light.
Clement said the company also is working with Washington's congressional delegation to try to get the light covered by Medicare, and with Veteran's Administration to have it installed on wheelchairs and scooters given to veterans.
SafeStrobe likely will sell for $400 to $500, although Clement said that's not final, and he hopes the price will come down as more of the lights are produced.
The lights are being manufactured by J&S Fabrication in Port Townsend.
The company also plans to roll out a model for bicycles, one for manual wheelchairs and eventually a model that could replace roadside flares for motorists in distress.
"We just want people to feel safer and be safe," Simpson said.