Posts Tagged ‘wheelchairs’

As I continue my training for the NJ Marathon on May 1st, I mapped out a route of two segments of 9 miles each. There would be about a 10 minute break in-between, to transport me from one location to another. In the past, I have run this stretch of road, and it is just too dangerous. So my husband met me and drove me from the end of the first 9 miles to the beginning of the next. It was kind of brisk weather – mid 30’s – and sunny. I was psyched for the distance and liked the route I had planned. I overdressed (as usual!) and had to ditch a layer and my hat halfway through. Otherwise, the run went well! I was even able to push myself at the end, with the saying “run, Cynthia, run” (as in Forrest Gump) keeping me going.

During this three and a half hour activity, I was reviewing everything about the Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament the night before. The planning was a little easier this time around, as usually is the case, when you are repeating an event. I learned from last year to have more helpers, and that worked out great. I had the best people helping, offering to do whatever needed to be done, and when they finished one thing, they jumped right to the next task.

As the players came in, it was nice to talk with those I knew, thanking them for supporting Push to Walk once again. I met some new people, too, and enjoyed talking with everyone. With more help this year, I was able to “work the room” and wasn’t tied down to a job for the evening. That was nice!

What I thought about most during this run, though, were the people in chairs who came to support our cause, even though they are not clients of Push to Walk. One guy came all the way from Flemington, another lives in NYC and had been traveling most of the month of March. He came back early just so he could come to our event! Between the long drives and the planning it takes to do extra events like this, I was so appreciative they made time for Push to Walk! And several of our clients, too. It was great to see them there, having a good time.

These thoughts morphed into thinking about so many other people I have met who use wheelchairs for one reason or another. In  most cases, a chair is being used for a spinal cord injury, but not always. I have met some wonderful people and their families, all dealing with their injuries and their challenges in individual ways. Some seem to have it all figured out (I don’t know if they really do, or just seem that way), some have challenges that are on-going, persistent and difficult. As I meet each person, I enjoy talking with them, learning about them and spending time with them. It doesn’t necessarily involve any conversation about why they’re in a chair. Sometimes it comes up; oftentimes it doesn’t.

In any case, I guess my mind was quite occupied with these thoughts, as my 18 miles didn’t really seem that terrible  (until the next day that is, which will be the subject of my next blog!). So as I reviewed the success of the event, the people who helped and those that supported us, I was grateful that Push to Walk has so many “friends.” Thank you, friends – all of you – for helping us accomplish our goals. And thank you for the motivation to reach my own personal goal – running a full marathon in just 5 more weeks!


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For all of the “political correctness” going on the world today, it is still commonly accepted to say “handicapped parking” for some reason. I know I am super sensitive to this whole issue, and I know that taints my opinions and what I’m going to write here, but I’m kind of fired up about it at the moment. But the words are not the reason I’m writing; just the reality of the difficulty that people who have disabilities face when parking in public places.  

So even though I ran yesterday and today, continuing my training for the NJ Marathon and raising funds for Push to Walk and people with spinal cord injuries, I must digress for today’s topic.

I brought my new Audi to the dealership today for a defect I consider to be an inherent fault, but the people at Paul Miller Audi in Parsippany didn’t agree. They sent me on my way with an offer I considered less than substantial, and I have resolved not to buy another Audi in the future. But that is not why I am writing this either.

Upon arrival at the dealership, I notice a car parked in the handicapped access grid. I remember seeing this on my last visit as well, but did not speak up. Definitely wrong on my part, so I was determined to say something today. While waiting to see the service manager I had an appointment with, I strolled over to make casual conversation with my salesman. I told him why I was there: because the paint job on my Audi sucks and the Audi rep was going to take a look at it. But then I said, “there’s something else I want to talk with you about.” When he asks what that is, I ask him why there’s a dealership car parked in the handicapped parking access grid in front of the building. As we walk toward the door to see for ourselves, he says, “we were just talking this morning about where to put these 2 cars (motioning toward another car nearby as well).” I said that I know I may seem overly sensitive to the whole issue of handicapped parking and access since my son uses a wheelchair, but parking a dealership car in the access grid is really wrong!

This salesman, nice enough guy, says to me “you’re not supposed to park there? It’s not the space, it’s NEXT to the space.” After I closed my mouth, which had dropped open in disbelief, I said “are you kidding me? do you not know why there are ACCESS grids next to handicapped parking spaces?” We proceeded to have a conversation about WHY there are grids, what their purpose is, why they are placed between spaces, they provide access to the sidewalk, etc. He claimed “I never knew that!”

WHAT????? Are people really this ignorant? (Apparently yes) Do they just not care (I guess they don’t).  So I “enlightened” this guy, and maybe now when he goes to the supermarket, or the mall, or the movies, just MAYBE he’ll look at one of those grids and NOT park there himself. MAYBE. Maybe he’ll actually think about a person who uses a wheelchair and how they need a little extra space to manuever getting in and out of their car. MAYBE I “taught” someone something today.

The next time I drive by that dealership, though, I’ll be sure to look at those handicapped spaces and see who’s parked there. And maybe I should send them the pamphlet that this excerpt came from:

“The striped area next to the parking space is called an access aisle and is strictly off limits for parking to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a handicapped parking plate or placard. The access aisle must be in place in order to ensure that people who use wheelchairs have room to transfer in and out of their vehicles. Only the handicapped parking space itself is reserved for those individuals who have proper identification on their vehicles (i.e., placard, tag, or plate) indicating that they are authorized to park in these designated areas. The access aisle or striped area next to the parking space is NOT a parking space. Anyone who parks in this area illegally should be reported to a local law enforcement officer.”

Perhaps I should get a lot of these pamphlets and give them out to everyone. Just MAYBE we can “enlighten” a few more people. Wanna help??? GRRRR





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