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I’ve just posted a new topic on Push to Walk’s Family Corner section of our website (click here) that talks about resuming activities and starting new ones after a spinal cord injury. Now that it’s been 10 years since Darren’s injury, he has tried a lot of different things. Some sports and activities had to be modified from how he did them prior to his injury; others were brand new to him. He’s liked some – skiing and wheelchair rugby, for example; and not others (at least not so much) – tennis for one. But he tries new and different things, and that is the important part.

I know I tend to stay in my “comfort zone” when it comes to physical activities and challenges. Setting a goal of completing half and full marathons was difficult on many levels, but not what you would call a risk. At least my feet were touching the ground! Leaving that comfort zone to try new things can be scary. Trying adaptive sports that require modified equipment, helpers, lots of extra time and patience is not always easy – either physically or mentally. But those that do try sometimes find a new outlet for energy, competitiveness, camaraderie and socialization.

I hope you’ll read my website section and maybe you’ll want to try something new or encourage a loved one to do something new – whether it’s sports, art, yoga, or skydiving! Whatever you do, have fun out there!

Cynthia

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The Abilities Expo is today, tomorrow and Sunday (Friday, May 2 – Sunday, May 4) at the NJ Convention & Expo Center @ Raritan, 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837. Come visit us at Booth #808!

One of the reasons I love this Expo is because it truly does center on abilities. What people CAN do, what products can help them live life to the fullest. In addition to vendors with products and services, many nonprofits are there which provide valuable information, all kinds of accessible vehicles and lots of adapted sports equipment and activities.

There is also a full schedule of presentations in adjoining meeting rooms and a schedule of demonstrations like wheelchair dancing and quad rugby. The full schedule of events can be reviewed by clicking HERE.

Go and spend a few hours – I am sure you will find it worthwhile!

P.S. Don’t forget to keep voting EVERY DAY for Push to Walk to win a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant. Click here to vote for us!

Thanks, and enjoy the weekend! Cynthia

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Happy Friday Everyone!

I am so excited to pass along this link! A video about my son Darren’s story and the reason we founded Push to Walk was recently produced and is featured on CNN.com. Check it out!

CNN Stories Worth Watching: Paralyzed Adventurer Moves Forward

Many thanks to our Board Chairman Ralph Rathyen for initiating contact with Sarah Galus Esteves at CNN and her commitment to bring it through the process for story development. Thank you to Sarah, Holly Firfer and the entire team for bringing our story to the public!

Please share with others through email, Facebook, etc.  Help us spread the word!

Enjoy the weekend! Cynthia

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Summer Boot Camp Week Progressing!

Happy Summer! Of course, now everyone is complaining about the heat, but it doesn’t seem so long ago that the complaints were about the cold and rain…………I hope you are enjoying the warm weather, and staying cool when needed!

Summer Camp started off on Sunday with a fun Ice Cream Social and guest speaker, our very own “Push Girl” Christan Zaccagnino. We are very grateful to Curly’s in Riverdale for donating their delicious chocolate and vanilla ice cream for all to enjoy. I’d like to thank so many our staff members, clients, friends and family members for coming out!

Monday evening was devoted to art and yoga, and I’d like to thank Laurie Kammer and David McCauley from Rise Up Gallery for donating materials and providing inspiration for the art workshop, as well as Nancy Witters and Kula for Karma for providing a great yoga experience.

Our first Open House this week brought several vendors, visitors and prospective clients to Push to Walk on Tuesday. The place was busy! With demos of the Re-Walk, and the Standing Company wheelchair, we learned a lot about these products, and also had the Morph Wheel, Coloplast and Drivemaster here with samples and information. Lunch and sno-cones topped off the day!

A Wheelchair Rugby exhibition was held on Tuesday evening at the Wayne YMCA, and a few members from the Warriors Rugby Team demonstrated the game to clients and staff members. Many thanks to the YMCA for allowing us to use their gym!

Tonight, Wednesday, lots of people have already signed up to meet at Hooters in Wayne for Trivia Night. We have a large group, and last year was so much fun, I am looking forward to a great night tonight!

UPCOMING:

Thursday is our second Open House and will be held from 9:30 am – 3 pm. We’ll have more demos, including Matt Courson and the Restorative Therapies RT-200, an exciting new piece of “hybrid” equipment that combines an arm and leg workout in a seated elliptical machine.  Come and visit us! Invite others who might want to check us out!

On Thursday evening, we will be traveling to The W.M. Keck Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick to hear Dr. Wise Young speak about the SCI Clinical Trials and results coming from China, and his plans for U.S. clinical trials. Other speakers and vendors will be present as well. Tours of the Lab start at 5 pm and the presentations start at 6 pm. Please call or e-mail Stephanie for more info: 862-200-5848 or slajam@pushtowalknj.org.

Join us for a Sled Hockey demonstration put on by the New Jersey Freeze at Floyd Hall Arena from 10:30 am until 12 noon.  The Arena is located on the campus of Montclair University and their GPS address is 28 Clove Road, Little Falls, NJ.

While we are all busy enjoying the Summer Camp activities, I’d like to recognize Stephanie Lajam, our Communications and Special Events Coordinator for doing an OUTSTANDING job of arranging the week’s events. She has secured lunch donations for the whole week, scheduled many vendors, and worked out all venue details. THANK YOU, Stephanie, for all of your hard work!! Thanks also to our staff members for participating in so many activities, especially after putting in long days and many hours of training. A special shout out to Tommy Sutor, our Program Director, for managing the client schedules this week.

Thanks to our clients and family members for joining us; I hope everyone has enjoyed the week so far!

REMINDER – We do have Macy’s 25% coupons for sale for $5.00 each, good at any Macy’s store on Saturday, August 24. Buy some today!!! Share with family, friends and co-workers!!

Thanks for reading! Cynthia

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This weekend, there are two totally unrelated things for me to write about. While they really don’t belong in the same blog, I only have one day to write about them, so here goes!

Happy Hanukkah to all our friends who celebrate the holiday also known as the Festival of Lights starting on December 8 and continuing for eight days. As I understand it, Hanukkah honors the perseverance of Judaism during ancient times, and the story of how the Menorah lamp miraculously remained lit for eight days. May you enjoy time with family and friends during this holiday season!

Also this weekend, the 5th Annual NY Warriors Al Youakim Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament will be held at The Henry Viscardi School, Albertson, NY. Games will be played Saturday December 8th and Sunday December 9th. The daily schedule will be 9-7:00pm on Saturday and 9-3:00 on Sunday. Awards Ceremonies will immediately follow the final game.

If you have not seen or experienced quad rugby and are in or near Long Island, this would be a great time to see the sport. I am very excited to learn that the NY Warriors will have two teams – that is awesome! And one of our own Push to Walk Summer Campers who tried the sport during the camp has joined the team! We are very excited about that! Adaptive sports like quad rugby offer an opportunity for healthy competition, socializing and camraderie. All the players I have met the last several years going and watching the games have been the nicest people (off the court, anyway!), and they really enjoy the sport. Go and check out a game or two!!
Teams that are participating: New York Warriors – 2 Teams, Philadelphia Eagles, Gaylord Sports Association’s Connecticut Jammers  and Northeast Passage Wildcats
The Henry Viscardi School is located at 201 I U Willets Road, Albertson, NY 11507
Saturday:
9:00 – 10:30: New York 1 / Philadelphia
10:30 – 12:00 Wildcats / Connecticut
12:00 – 1:30: New York 2 / Philadelphia
1:30 – 3:00:  Connecticut / New York 1
3:00 – 4:30:  Philadelphia / Wildcats
4:30 – 6:00:  Connecticut / New York 2
Sunday:
9:00 – 10:30: New York 2 / Wildcats
10:30 – 12:00: New York 1 / Wildcats
12:00 – 1:30: Connecticut / Philadelphia
1:30 – 3:00:  New York 1 / New York 2
Maybe I’ll see you there! Enjoy the weekend, whatever you do!
Cynthia

 

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I thought about writing today’s post about flying because my son, Darren, will be flying to Las Vegas tomorrow afternoon for a quad rugby tournament. As with many of my posts, they come from my own personal experience, and are not neccessarily true or accurate for everyone else, but they are what I know, and can hopefully help others.

As many of you already know, Darren is very independent. He’s a C5 quad that drives, has his MBA and works full time. He is living in an apartment with a roommate, and is active on the Board and as a player for the NY Warriors quad rugby team.

Darren has flown many times since his injury. Some flights were with me or other family members, with friends, and by himself as well. He uses a manual wheelchair with eMotion wheels, which he has to be very careful with when flying. His roommate will be dropping him off and picking him up from the airport, so I won’t even be there to give him last minute reminders. I’m sure Darren is grateful for that actually! While I feel the need to remind him of a variety of things, Darren doesn’t obviously need my help (imagine that!). Oh, the anxiety “us Moms” have when “letting go” of our children……..

One thing I know is to allow plenty of time for everything travel related. It takes more time to drop off the passenger, more time to check in, more time to go through security, etc. Preparation is key! Then, usually the airline wants you to board FIRST, so you want to make sure you arrive at the gate with plenty of time. In Darren’s case, he stays in his wheelchair until he reaches the door of the plane. He is then transferred into an “aisle chair” that is very narrow and fits in the aisle of the plane. It is up to Darren to instruct the helpers as to how to lift him, how to transfer, etc. It is very important that the passenger feel comfortable in explaining how things should be done for him/herself. If the passenger is unable to explain the details, he/she should have someone along with them to explain. His wheelchair (previously tagged) will be gate checked.

During a long flight or delays of any sort, you should be prepared to catheterize should the need arise. Darren always has his supplies with him, and with the help of a seat mate or stewardess, he can have a blanket for privacy should he need to take care of urinating on the plane. It can hopefully be avoided, but sometimes must be done.

Upon arrival at the destination, a person using an aisle chair and needing their wheelchair from the cargo area, is generally the last one off the plane. It is important to check the wheelchair to make sure it all looks good, before transferring back into it. I know Darren takes off some of the parts that might come off or be harmed in transit (tip bars, seat cushion), so they need to be put back on.

I hope I don’t jinx this trip, but up until now, Darren has not had any problems with his chair. I have heard horror stories about both passengers and equipment being abused and not treated properly, but fortunately, Darren’s equipment has always been OK.

We did have a situation in the Denver airport when we were flying home to NJ from a great week of skiing at Winter Park (their adaptive program was awesome!) where Darren was definitely and clearly mis-treated. The agent was nasty and seemed to have his eye on Darren from the minute we arrived at security. At that time, we did not know the regulation/law said that a person in a wheelchair does NOT have to be removed from his/her chair for an “inspection,” but we do now. We had never had this happen before (or since, thank goodness), but that experience was horrible. The agent insisted on bringing Darren into a private room, would not let me or anyone in the family accompany him, and they transferred him out of his wheelchair and into another chair so they could inspect him and the chair. It was an awful, humiliating experience. We know now that a person is not required to do this, and I hope Darren carries that regulation with him, that we found online. Hopefully he’ll never have to use it.

All in all, his travel experiences have been pleasant, and he certainly does not avoid flying if he wants to go somewhere. I’d love to hear your questions, experiences and stories. Please share!

Cynthia

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