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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Advocacy Day at the Statehouse 2016

Advocacy Day banner at the South Carolina State House.

Advocacy Day banner at the South Carolina State House.

I spent the day in Columbia, SC at the Advocacy Day rally for people with the disabilities. The for main topics of discussion were related to healthcare, employment, housing and transportation.

A few members from the South Carolina Legislature addressed the crowd and a proclamation was read to commemorate the day. Several members from the disability community from around the state pitched their stump speeches, so to speak, on issues that mattered most to them.

Maria Saxon of Charleston spoke about the importance of accessible healthcare facilities, and she also shared her experience on disability employment.

Even though today was Advocacy Day, we can promote awareness and educate our community and legislators all year long. To see my photos from today’s event, go to https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10101551236731164.1073741875.21310342&type=1&l=d6ab339d16.

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Maria Saxon waving to vehicles passing by in front of the State House.

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Boston Marathon wheelchair athletes race to the finish

Marcel Hug of Switzerland crosses the finish line ahead of Kurt Fearnley of Australia (C) and Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa (R) to win the men's wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Marcel Hug of Switzerland crosses the finish line ahead of Kurt Fearnley of Australia (C) and Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa (R) to win the men’s wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

It was one of the closest finishes for the wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon! Last year’s winner, Marcel Hug, barely won it out in front of Kurt Fearnley and Earnst Van Dyk in the 26.1-mile race.

According to Boston.com, “Hug, of Switzerland, crossed the finish line in 1:24:01, one second ahead of South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk, 1:24:02, and two seconds ahead of Australia’s Kurt Fearnley, 1:24:03. Hug won with a time of 1:29:53 in 2015.”

Take a look at the story and watch the video of the photo-finish win.

Tatyana McFadden was the female winner in the wheelchair division with a time of 1:42:16. McFadden, who is a native of Russia, now resides in the United States. In a People Magazine article, it notes, “She’s the first person to ever win all four of the world’s major marathons in London, Boston, Chicago and New York.”

McFadden competes in the London Marathon next week and will participate in track and field events at the 2016 Paralympics this summer. Read more about McFadden in this article.

I am absolutely amazed at the strength, both physically emotionally, of these athletes as they overcome the barriers they face.

Michael Jordan once said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen!” I can definitely say these athletes are making it happen!

Tatyana McFadden, of Clarksville, Md., crosses the finish line to win the women's wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Tatyana McFadden, of Clarksville, Md., crosses the finish line to win the women’s wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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TV commercials featuring the disabled

Angela Rockwood, a quadriplegic model, who has appeared on the Push Girls television show and Nordstrom catalogs.

Angela Rockwood, a quadriplegic model, who has appeared on the Push Girls television show and Nordstrom catalogs.

With my love for media, it’s always exciting to see the inclusion of people with disabilities in television shows and commercials. Even though improvements are being made, there is still a disproportionate number of commercials that do not include those with disabilities.

The cover story of New Mobility Magazine describes how some advertising agencies are becoming more inclusive for both television and print media. Angela Rockwood, a model from the TV show, Push Girls, has been featured in Nordstrom ads and catalogs. Kroger grocery stores, Kleenex tissues and Honey Maid graham crackers are among the companies that have featured people with disabilities.

Take a look at Allen Rucker’s story in New Mobility. As we break down the barriers for inclusion, there will be more folks like me gracing the presence of television screens and magazine pages.

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Recap of the Cooper River Bridge Run

The rain held up for the 36,000 participants of Saturday’s 39th annual Cooper River Bridge Run. Among the crowd were the wheelchair racing athletes and two people with spinal cord injury who walked the entire 6.2 miles with the walking devices.

James Senbeta wins 1st place - Photo: Post and Courier

James Senbeta wins 1st place – Photo: Post and Courier

James Senbeta of Illinois has won the wheelchair division two years in a row. This year, his time was 25:31, and last year, he clocked in at 26:07. Other wheelchair racers this year were  from New York, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.

The other notable athletes who completed the race were Marka Danielle Rodgers and Adam Gorlitsky. If you’ve followed my blog in the last several weeks, you’ve seen my posts about these two amazing people.

Marka crossing the finish line!

Marka crosses the finish line

Marka crossed the finish line with a time of 2:08:47. She had a team of supporters around her as she walked with the Ottobock knee and foot orthotic (KAFO) active stance brace system.

Adam used the ReWalk exoskeleton to cross the finish line. Adam’s exoskeleton allows hm to walk about one mile per hour, allowing him to complete the 10K trek in about six-and-a-half hours. The race route was changed and the finish line was moved to the Charleston Maritime Center so Adam could officially cross the finish line.

To see pictures of the race, visit my Facebook page.

Adam Gorlitsky - 2016 CRBR

Adam Gorlitsky nears the finish line

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