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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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


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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