Posts Tagged ‘wheelchairs’

We are looking forward to the first ever Jack O’Lantern Jamboree which will be held at Kinnelon High School, Kinnelon, NJ on Sunday, October 28, 2012 from 4:30-6:30 pm, rain or shine. This is a FREE family event! Pumpkins are being sold ahead of time, and children and adults are encouraged to bring their pre-carved or painted pumpkins to be judged for prizes. There will also be a live pumpkin carving contest, a carving demonstration, kids’ games, a wheechair obstacle course, and a parade for the kids who come in costume. Many local businesses have donated prizes for the winners. The event will conclude with the Push to Pumpkin Walk at sundown, when the carved pumpkins will be lit around the track for all to admire.

When Suburban Trends approached Push to Walk with the idea of a fun, family event, we were very excited to work with them on a Halloween related theme and have an opportunity to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries at the same time. Since we always look for ways to tie our mission into our events, the idea of including a wheelchair obstacle course seemed like a perfect fit. Members of the public can see what it’s like to navigate a wheelchair for a few minutes, and try to do simple things from a seated position.

The live pumpkin carving contest is hoped to generate interest among the attendees, who will then bid on their favorites to take home with them if they are the high bidder. So bring your carved pumpkins to Kinnelon High School, and join in on the fun! Check out this link for more information:


Call us for details! 862-200-5848. Hope to see you there!



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At this past weekend’s Sports and Recreation Expo held at Helen Hayes Hospital, there were a number of vendors there with wheelchairs, vehicles, sports equipment and other information and resources. It was a great combination of products and services for people with spinal cord injuries and lots of other disabilities. Some of the vendors provide equipment that would be considered “medically necessary” like wheelchairs and lift systems if a person cannot transfer him or herself. I consider driving a neccessity, but that is my own opinion. In the eyes of the funders or government systems, it is quite difficult and time consuming to get funds to either purchase a vehicle or have it modified with hand controls and other adaptive equipment. Then there’s all the “extra” kinds of equipment that are definitely not covered by insurance or other programs, but have the potential of providing exercise, recreation and social activities. That’s what I’ll focus on here today. (I do acknowledge and understand that there are many other financial challenges as well. I do not mean to neglect them, but just focusing on one area today.)

One of our Push to Walk clients attended the Expo and saw some really cool stuff. After mentioning how he’d love to have one of the things he saw, he quickly acknowledged that the price tag was beyond his means. First, it seems like “stuff” for people with disabilities is just so darn expensive. As soon as something is described as helping people with disabilities, the price tag goes up considerably. For people that are handy and creative, they often build or rig something up for themselves that works just as good if not better than a product they could buy. This happens way too often, and it upsets me. I don’t know the business of manufacturing and distribution, but I do know equipment is very expensive and customer service is lacking in many, many companies who provide products to people with disabilities.

For sports and recreation equipment, there are a few resources that are worth checking out for individuals who want to buy their own stuff. I know there are requirements and guidelines for applying, but with persistence and some hard work, you might just find funding to help you. Check out the Travis Roy Foundation (www.travisroyfoundation.org), the Kelly Brush Foundation (www.kellybrushfoundation.org), The Challenged Athletes Foundation (www.challengedathletesfoundation.org) and Freedom on Wings of Sport (www.wingsofsport.com). Maybe one of these will fit your needs and you can apply for funding. Also HelpHOPELive, formerly NTAF (www.helphopelive.org) can help you set up a fundraising plan to assist you in your efforts.

While these approaches may be time consuming and tricky to navigate, it might be worthwhile in the long run. Check them out so you can go out there and have some fun. Let me know how it goes. I’ll be waiting to hear from you!


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Webster’s Dictionary (yes, the actual book; I still use one of those!) defines the word “persist” as “to continue firmly and steadfastly despite obstacles.”

In my experience with everything related to spinal cord injuries for almost 8 years now, it seems like persistence is needed in almost every area of everyday life. Whether it’s related to health care, necessary equipment or activities, it seems to take persistence for anything to happen at all. And for things to happen smoothly – well, that takes extra doses of persistence, for sure!

I myself have needed to advocate for proper medical care for Darren, helped him with his benefits (waivers, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc), contacted vendors for equipment and assisted him in obtaining his driver’s license. Now, he is doing more of these things on his own, but in the beginning, I did a lot for him. From my point of view, the most difficult areas seemed to be the most important. Why is it SO hard to get a wheelchair? The process is very frustrating, maddening at times, and SOOOO slow. This is what people rely on, every single day. And yet it takes months and months, if not a full year or more, to go through the entire process. Who is in control? Who cares? Persistence pays off (sometimes); but I find myself balancing on a thin tight-rope between being persistent and downright mean to the person who seems to be holding up the process. UGH!

Another area where persistence seems to be key is with driving. The difficulty in scheduling adaptive driving lessons, figuring out the proper equipment that is needed, finding/ordering/buying a suitable vehicle, and then having everything come together so you can actually take the driving test and get your license –  I feel exhausted when our Push to Walk clients just tell me what they go through. If they weren’t persistent, the process would take even longer or they would give up.

But that is the good part of the story – our clients DON’T give up! They persist, they persevere and they accomplish things! They get their new wheelchairs, they start driving, they travel, they do fun things. None of it is easy; none of it is fun. But they all do what is needed so they can reach their goals. They overcome obstacles day in and day out, and accomplish things many people told them they wouldn’t. Our Push to Walk clients personify the word persistence in their daily lifes and I am so proud of them!

If you have a good story of how persistence helped you accomplish something in your life – big or small – let me know!

P.S. For all you locals who live near Push to Walk – come to Chili’s on Route 23 in Riverdale on Thursday, April 19. Chili’s will donate 10% of all sales all day tomorrow to Push to Walk – eat in OR take out! Please be sure to have a coupon with you (we have them at Push to Walk or I can e-mail you one, just let me know) or ask your server. Thanks! Your support is appreciated!

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I am happy to say we have our first Flip Video Camera back with some footage! Yay! We will be posting some of the clips soon, but I wanted to mention how tricky it really is for people who use wheelchairs to get around, especially in a city. In the suburbs, it is mostly getting in and out of cars, parking spaces, and accessible entrances that prove difficult. In the city, it’s sidewalks, curb cuts, potholes, vehicles and more.

One of our Push to Walk clients filmed an ice cream truck blocking a curb cut and making it difficult to cross the street in his wheelchair. While most of us like to see the ice cream truck – brings to mind summer fun, warm temperatures and a good mood – one blocking accessibility is frustrating and upsetting. Sure, it’s a little thing for those of us who are able-bodied, but when you’re using a wheelchair, even partially blocking an accessible curb cut can bring big problems.

If we could all have a little (or a lot!) more regard for what people using wheelchairs have to deal with on a regular basis, it might make a BIG difference. Think about it next time you are out and about, and see what improvements you can make in your own behavior or help someone else understand how they can help, too. Ignorance is not an excuse for bad behavior, but sometimes it is up to us to point it out and provide some education.

If you have any stories to add to this topic, please let me know. I’d love to share them!


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Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend!

A Push to Walk client passed along a newspaper story about a man and his company who renovate upscale Manhattan homes, and now he has added accessible and universal design to the services he provides. This would seem a natural area for Martin Watters to focus on – he uses a wheelchair himself. The company is called ADA Lifestyles of New York. Check them out! (http://www.wattersconstruction.com)

This article reminds me of how many people and families affected by spinal cord injury, paralysis and an array of other disabilities have “normal” homes that become nearly impossible to navigate once a wheelchair is needed. Our own home, a ranch up until a year before Darren’s injury, but now with two stories and lots of steps, had to be changed quite a bit to accomodate Darren’s wheelchair. Outside of providing primary care to a newly injured family member, this is one of the most important, expensive and stressful areas that need to be dealt with.

Our own town of Kinnelon, New Jersey was extremely helpful in getting the renovation project moved along very quickly. The Mayor and Council, our architect, builder and sub-contractors all pulled together to get our project started and completed in record time. But I know many others who are not as fortunate. It is often the cost of such projects that is prohibitive (especially on top of all the other costs if it’s a sudden spinal cord injury), the lack of resources to aid in the design, the workers to do the job. When I hear of people waiting weeks and months just to get a ramp so they can get in and out of their houses safely and easily, it breaks my heart.

In this newspaper article from The Journal News (www.lohud.com), it references how Rockland County, NY has adopted a law with design standards for accessibility and recommends a speedier process for town permit applications for modifications. Sounds like some good progress, and perhaps other counties will follow their lead. I certainly hope so!

I know of a local agency in New Jersey, DAWN (www.dawncil.org) who received funds from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to help people offset costs of certain home modifications in certain counties of New Jersey. I hope there are other resources out there, too, that can help. If you know of any, please pass them along and I’ll be sure to include them in a future post and on our website in the links section (www.pushtowalknj.org).

For now, let’s all think about how we can help make our homes more accessible to visitors in wheelchairs and the little things we can do to help people feel welcome. And if there’s any way we can assist others to find the resources they need to make their own homes more accessible and functional, let’s put our heads together and help! This is an area where people working together can truly make a difference to someone with a disability of any kind.


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Happy Friday!

A video has been making it’s way around the net about Josh Dueck, a skier who has just performed a back-flip. If you don’t know his story, you might say “what’s the big deal?” Extreme sports have become more mainstream and the X Games were just on TV a few weeks ago. Skiers were doing all sorts of crazy stuff! But Josh’s story is a “little” different.

Josh is an accomplished skier who nailed a back flip on a sit-ski. Yes, a sit-ski. I have watched this video a few times now, and must admit I have mixed emotions. As a mother of a son with a spinal cord injury, I cringed at the idea. Always a “worrier,” I couldn’t even watch Darren play quad rugby at first (now I love it!). I think about the “what ifs.” As a skier myself, I have absolutely NO IDEA how people accomplish jumps, flips, spins and the likes. I am happy to have my two skis on the snow at all times. Just the idea of being airborne would send me right into the lodge! Being the mother of two expert skiers, I know the urge was always there to “push the envelope” as they got better and better.

But now I watch Josh Dueck doing what he loves – skiing, screaming down mountains, taking jumps and flying thru the air. How wonderful to see him doing what he has always dreamed of. Yes, he is using a sit-ski, but does it really matter? What this has reminded me of is that people who sustain spinal cord injuries are still the same person they were before their injury. A quiet, shy person is still quiet and shy. Using a wheelchair doesn’t make him or her a new, outgoing personality ready to work a room. A loud, aggressive person who was annoying is still annoying now. And a daring, adventurous athlete is still willing to take risks, go beyond the limits and see what can be accomplished.

For this, I love Josh Dueck. I love seeing that he is still pursuing his dreams and “going for it.” I love seeing that he has a support team willing to help him reach his goals. And I love that he is sharing his accomplishments.

Perhaps in a future blog post, I will touch on what we DON’T see in the video – what it takes to practice and train for such a demanding sport, the challenges of the clothing, the weather, the equipment, getting to and from the mountains…………… so much we might all take for granted, but is certainly not easy for an athlete with a disability.

For now, enjoy the videos for all they have to offer – and all they have to show us what determination and dreams can mean.

A shorter video about the back-flip:  http://youtu.be/4xjUUf_sK84 and a longer video (which I totally enjoyed) about Josh’s “story”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/josh-dueck-sit-ski-backflip_n_1263159.html (this is a longer video is lower on the page).

Happy viewing, and let me know what YOU think!


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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!


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