Weekend Recap: James Island Connector Run and Wheelchair Tennis

This past weekend was filled with several activities. The 18th Annual James Island Connector Run was a great success. The weather was nice and we had a great turnout of runners, walkers, cyclists and wheelchair riders.

Sarah Casteel was the only hand cyclist in the event and there were a few people with are blind who rode tandem bicycles with a sighted rider.


Sarah Casteel riding a hand cycle.

Marka Danielle walked the bridge using her Purple Legs and Adam Gorlitsky walked the course in his exoskeleton.


Marka Danielle (left) and Adam Gorlitsky (third from left) stand with City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and his wife, Sandy.

All proceeds from the race benefit students with physical disabilities through the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation at six local colleges: College of Charleston, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, Trident Technical College the Medical University of South Carolina and the Art Institute of Charleston.

Adaptive Expeditions Wheelchair Tennis Clinic

After the race, a group of us attended Adaptive Expeditions‘ inaugural wheelchair tennis clinic. The nonprofit organization provides recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. The session was led by avid tennis players Sarah Casteel and Jeff Kegler.

There was a mix of experience levels of the participants. A couple people didn’t need the instructional lessons, so they played a game on their own. The rest of us were newer to the sport.

Take a look at the video clips and watch us in action!

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Are you ready for the James Island Connector Run this Saturday?

jicr-poster-2016We’re counting down the days for the 18th annual Charleston James Island Connector Run! It is this Saturday, October 22 in Charleston, SC.

Proceeds from the race benefit the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation, which provides scholarships to students with disabilities. I was a recipient of the scholarship while I attended the College of Charleston. Now, I’m on the committee to award scholarships to students in the Charleston area.

To register for the James Island Connector Run, go to http://www.jicrun.com. Online registration ends Thursday at noon. You can register in person at Canon Park in downtown Charleston Friday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. or on race day beginning at 6:00 a.m.

Look forward to seeing you at the race!

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Waves of fun during Adaptive Recreation Weekend

Riding the waves with the support of Marina Forbus, Luke Sharp and Sarah Cline.

Riding the waves with the support of Marina Forbus, Luke Sharp and Sarah Cline.

This past weekend definitely has been filled with fun activities during Adaptive Recreation Weekend. The highlight of it all was going surfing on Folly Beach!

I could not have done it without the team of volunteers and my tandem rider, Luke Sharp, as he held me on the board. Luke has been asking me for several years to go surfing, so he was excited when I took the plunge.

It was one of the most amazing experiences being on the surf board and getting to ride the waves!

Even though I had some apprehension beforehand, my fears were washed away once I saw everyone else enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the next adventure!


Hula hooping thanks to Hooptitude at James Island County Park.

Hula hooping thanks to Kitcat Cunningham and Hooptitude at James Island County Park.

In addition to surfing, the Adaptive Recreation Expo was held Sunday afternoon at James Island County Park. It provided an opportunity for people to try archery, wall climbing, hula hooping and much more!

This weekend would not have been possible without Wheels to Surf team, Adaptive Expeditions and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

As we close out Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, I want to remind everyone that this disability does not stop us from enjoying life. We’ve got to get out there to show everyone what’s possible! Thank you all for your support as I share my story on this journey called life!

Take a look at the video from the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association.


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Powering up with the Permobil F3

I'm sitting in my new Permobil F3

I’m sitting in my new Permobil F3

Out with the old and in with the new! I “traded in” my Permobil Street for the new Permobil F3.

The F3 is a front-wheel drive chair, which means the big tires are in the front and the smaller wheels are in the back. My old chair was the opposite, a rear-wheel drive system. The new style makes it easier to turn in narrow spaces like getting into my van and maneuvering at home.

Some of my favorite features of the F3 include:

  • 10 inches of seat elevation – I can raise the seat to reach things that are up high in the kitchen cabinets and can be at eye level with people who are standing
  • tilt and recline – I can lean back to relieve pressure on my hips and legs
  • An image of the joystick with the speedometer and clock

    An image of the joystick with the speedometer and clock

    articulating foot rests – I can have my feet and legs at different angles for stretching and to relieve pressure

  • speedometer– I can see how fast I’m going. The top speed is 6.1 miles per hour
  • clock – It’s neat to have the clock built in to the joystick system

The first three features are more than just accessories…they improve my quality of life. If I didn’t have those features, I would not be able to be as independent as I am. Tilt and recline are especially important for my health.

Since I’m in the chair all day, it’s important that I do pressure reliefs to prevent pressure sores on the skin. My seating system is also customized for me so that I’m sitting comfortably all day. You can read more about my Ride Designs customized seating system in a previous blog post.

Lastly, I wouldn’t be able to have my customized wheelchair if it weren’t for my seating specialist, Jill Monger, and the technicians at Pharmaceutical Health Care. This also wouldn’t be possible without coverage by my insurance company. While insurance doesn’t cover the complete cost of my chair, it pays for the majority of the cost. Our legislators need to need to realize the importance of these powerful machines!

I’m looking forward to living to the best of my abilities thanks to my Permobil F3!

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Going for gold and gearing up for the Paralympic Games

Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Logos

It has been amazing watching the Olympics from Rio the past two weeks! With Simone Biles and the women’s gymnastics team leading in many of their exercise routines to Tori Bowie and the women of the track and field events who sprinted past their competitors. Michael Phelps also dominated in his events, which was most likely his last Olympic Games.

Team USA brought home an astounding 121 medals — 46 gold medals, 37 silver medals and 38 bronze medals.

These athletes have put in a lot of time and energy into becoming the world’s best athletes. They have trained for nearly their entire lives to be a part of the Olympics, something they will never forget.

I admire their determination and dedication to succeed. Their passion for learning and developing their craft is amazing. While, we may not be elite athletes, we can have the same amount of drive as they have.

I would like to share with you four traits motivational speaker Jim Rohn says we must have to become successful.

  1. Change your beliefs
  2. Get the right knowledge
  3. Become passionate about learning
  4. Discipline yourself through hard work of study.

If we apply these principles, then we can go for gold in everything that we do!

Rio 2016 Paralympics

If you enjoyed the completion of the Olympic Games, then you should be excited to watch the Paralympics from Sept. 7-18. These Games will be played by athletes with disabilities. Many of the same events you’ve seen already will be part of the line-up including wheelchair tennis, swimming and sailing.

The Paralympics can be watched on the NBC Sports Network (check your local listings). To view the television broadcasting schedule, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/paralympic-schedule.

For the event schedule, check out https://www.rio2016.com/en/paralympics/schedule-and-results.

Let’s get ready to cheer on these athletes as they bring home the gold!

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Summer fun with adaptive recreation

It’s been about a month since my last blog post, but it has been filled with lots of great activities. From adaptive water expos at Lions Beach on Lake Moultrie to the 5th annual Shots With A Spin wheelchair basketball tournament, we definitely know how to stay active here in the Lowcountry!

Adaptive Water Expo

Dewitt Floyd water skiing on Lake Moultrie. Photo: Laird Nelson Photography

Dewitt Floyd water skiing on Lake Moultrie. Photo: Laird Nelson Photography

The first of two adaptive water expos were held in June. Several people with disabilities hung out on the sand and surf to enjoy relaxing in the sun, swimming, kayaking and water skiing. Dewitt Floyd enjoyed being one of the first to hop on the skis.

The physical therapy students from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) volunteer at this event every summer to help participants get fitted for skis and provide assistance while in the water. Achieving Wheelchair Equality,  Adaptive Expeditions, Anchors Away, Floyd Brace Company and Roper Rehabilitation Hospital are among the organizations that help make these events possible.

Shots With A Spin


Physical therapists playing wheelchair basketball at MUSC Shots With A Spin

Physical therapy students playing wheelchair basketball at MUSC Shots With A Spin

For the 5th year, the MUSC physical therapy students organize a wheelchair basketball tournament as a fundraiser benefitting Achieving Wheelchair Equality. The twist on this event is that able-bodied people are playing in wheelchairs.

Near the end of the event, the North Charleston Hurricanes played an exhibition game against the Spartanburg Pistons. These teams compete in the Carolina Wheelchair Basketball Association and they have athletes ranging in disability including amputees and spinal cord injury.

North Charleston Hurricanes v. Spartanburg Pistons at MUSC Shots With A Spin

North Charleston Hurricanes v. Spartanburg Pistons at MUSC Shots With A Spin

Marka Danielle, a ballet dancer with a spinal cord injury, also performed a dance routine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SzIfqPTJV0v.

As you can see, there is always something to do here in the Charleston area. I’m glad these opportunities exist which allow us to live beyond our disabilities!

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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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