Bridge Run participants, Marka and Adam, featured in New Mobility

Marka Danielle Rodgers and Adam Gorlitsky await the start of the Cooper River Bridge Run.

Marka Danielle Rodgers and Adam Gorlitsky await the start of the Cooper River Bridge Run.

After watching Marka Danielle and Adam Gorlitsky become the first people with spinal cord injuries to walk across the finish line at this year’s Cooper River Bridge Run, I thought their stories needed to be shared in New Mobility Magazine.

My story is featured in this month’s issue of the national spinal cord injury magazine. Marka used the E-MAG active stance control knee, foot and ankle orthotic braces while Adam used the ReWalk Exoskeleton.

Take a look at the story at http://www.unitedspinal.org/cooper-river-bridge-run/.

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Supporting the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation

We’re about 122 days –about four months — away from the 18th annual Charleston James Island Connector Run! The race will be Saturday, October 22 beginning at Canon Park in downtown Charleston, S.C.

The race is the primary fundraiser for the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation, which provides scholarships to students with disabilities at the College of Charleston, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, Trident Technical College, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Art Institute of Charleston.

I was a recipient of the scholarship while I attended College of Charleston, and I’m proud to continue to be a part of the organization. Bringing education within reach for students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity is an amazing feeling.

To learn more about the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation and the Charleston James Island Connector Run, take a look at the video below. By the way, it’s not too early to sign up for the race!

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Splish, splash with adaptive water sports

On one of the hottest weekends of the year, the first adaptive water sports expo of the summer was held Saturday at Lions Beach in Moncks Corner, S.C. This fun-filled day featured water skiers and kayakers with disabilities.

Sherwood Toatley skiing along Lake Moultrie.

Sherwood Toatley skiing along Lake Moultrie.

Sherwood Toatley traveled from Chapin, S.C., to try adaptive skiing to mark his 35th year of living with an incomplete C1-C2 spinal cord injury. He enjoyed skiing and is looking forward to going again soon.

Participants also enjoyed adapted kayaks provided by Adaptive Expeditions. It was Maria Saxon’s inaugural kayaking adventure. Adaptive Expeditions provides practice sessions in a pool to allow people to become comfortable with the boats, then they take folks out to the open waters.

This event would not be possible without the volunteers who were on hand from Achieving Wheelchair Equality (AWE), Anchors Away, Adaptive Expeditions, MUSC Department of Physical Therapy and Roper Rehabilitation Hospital.

Join us for the next adaptive sports adventure Saturday, July 23 from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. at Lions Beach (923 Broughton Rd., Moncks Corner S.C.)

Maria Saxon returning from kayaking.

Maria Saxon returning from kayaking.

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College of Charleston ranked No. 6 in most accessible colleges and universities

CollegeofCharleston-Randolph

When you think of the College of Charleston, you may not view it as one of the most accessible colleges in the country. It’s set in the heart of downtown Charleston, SC, which is known for its historic charm of cobblestone streets and brick-laiden sidewalks.

The College was founded in 1770. It’s the oldest college south of Virginia and the thirteenth oldest in the country. That goes to show you there’s a lot of history on this beloved campus.

College Choice recently ranked the liberal arts college among the nation’s 50 Best Disability Friendly Colleges and Universities. The full list is available at http://www.collegechoice.net/50-best-disability-friendly-colleges-and-universities/.

From an accessibility standpoint, the College’s Center for Disability Services, also known as SNAP (Students Needing Access Parity), ensures classrooms are accessible and that students have the accommodations needed to foster learning.

I used the peer note taker service and had the option to use an audio recorder when I was a student. I also scheduled my classes early in the registration process to ensure I could get to each class in a timely matter. Faculty and staff were very helpful whenever I needed anything. 

Although SNAP primarily focuses on the academic aspect, the staff devotes a lot of time to make sure the rest of the campus is accessible.

In 2007, an elevator was installed at the student media building allowing access to the second floor when I hosted a radio show on CofC Radio. More recently, another elevator was installed at the Blacklock House where Alumni Association events are held. Restrooms were also renovated in Randolph Hall.

These are great renovations for the campus, but I would love to see even more modifications. Improved ease of access throughout the campus would be great. There are some sidewalks that are treacherous, even for able-bodied folks. Think about what it does for people in wheelchairs and those who use other mobility aides.

It’s an honor for my alma mater to be recognized, but I think this is just the beginning. It would be great to see College of Charleston move up on the list!

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Is Uber the way to go?

Uber logoWe have all heard the pros and cons of riding with Uber. Transportation Network Companies (TNC) –Uber and Lyft — are trying to make an impact on the transportation scene with vehicles that are wheelchair accessible.

However, the main issue is that each person with a disability has different needs. Some people use walkers or manual wheelchairs that can be easily folded or collapsed to fit into the trunk of a car. While others have heavy power chairs that require a vehicle equipped with a ramp or lift. There are not many Uber vehicles, or taxis in general, that can transport me and my 200-plus pound wheelchair.

I’ve given some thought to becoming an Uber driver since there is definitely a need for it. Just today, I helped two of my coworkers with disabilities get to their destinations since the Paratransit bus had issues when picking them up.

An accessible Uber would have been perfect in this situation since there weren’t many other options available. Making Uber and other TNCs more accessible will be a valued benefit for everyone.

As the importance of accessible vehicles become more prominent, there will be better access. We just have to continue to advocate and educate those around us to increase equal access. New Mobility Magazine is doing just that through their recent story.

Also take a look at Uber’s accessibility video below and let me know what you think.

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Share your story on National Trauma Survivors Day, May 18

Wednesday, May 18 is National Trauma Survivors Day! This recognition provides an opportunity to educate trauma survivors and the community on recovery resources after a traumatic incident. Some disabilities resulting from trauma include spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and amputations.

Alex at MUSC Trauma Survivors Day May 11

Alex at MUSC Trauma Survivors Day May 11

With the support of the Trauma Survivors Network, newly-injured people have the opportunity to connect with others who are injured. While the road to recovery may seem difficult now, peer mentoring and support groups are valuable assets to improve one’s quality of life.

Several hospitals and medical facilities around the country help make up the network of trauma resources, including  the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, SC. MUSC held its Trauma Survivors Day celebration May 11 and several local organizations who work with people with disabilities attended the event.

The MUSC Public Relations office wrote a few stories about Trauma Survivors Network and the importance of peer mentoring. Take a look at the story where I shared how I was injured in a car accident when I was an infant.

Follow National Trauma Survivors Day on Facebook at “Trauma Survivors Network” or on Twitter and Instagram @TraumaSurvivors. Use (hashtag) #traumasurvivorsday

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Lowcountry Giving Day and Midlands Gives

Cities and towns across the country are looking for your support today as part of Giving Day. Here is your chance to help your communities through making a donation.

I’ve been involved with several Lowcountry and Midlands non-profit organizations in South Carolina. They have helped me overcome many obstacles of living with a disability and I’m grateful I have had the opportunity to give back to those who helped me along the way. If you are looking for organizations to help today, here are a few that I recommend:

Lowcountry

AccessAbility – Formerly known as the disAbility Resource Center, this organization is one of three independent living centers in South Carolina that provides workshops on skills of independent living for people with disabilities and offers resources.

Disabilities Foundation of Charleston County – This Foundation provides programs and services for children and adults primarily with intellectual disabilities. The organization is connected with the Disabilities Board of Charleston County.

Midlands

South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association – The Association is a resource for people with spinal cord injuries who may have questions or are in need of resources to help them in their daily lives. The peer mentoring program provides assistance to newly-injured people who are adjusting to their disability.

To donate to the Lowcountry organizations, please visit the Lowcountry Giving Day website, For the Midlands organizations, go to the Midlands Gives website. Every donation helps; you will be making a huge impact on the lives of people with disabilities in South Carolina.

Thank you for your support!

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