Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 Winter Paralympic Games

Last Friday, the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games ( began with an impressive opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea. At the largest Winter Paralympics ever, 567 athletes with physical disabilities from 48 countries and a neutral Paralympic athletes team composed of Russians are competing in six sports: alpine and cross-country skiing, biathlon, para ice hockey, snowboard, and wheelchair curling. So far, the United States (the nation most represented with 68 athletes) is leading in medals. The Winter Paralympic Games will continue until March 18. To find out when the Paralympics will be shown on TV or online, go to

Image result for 2018 paralympics
Image from Wikimedia

Monday, March 5, 2018

Spotlight: Mike Schultz

Mike Schultz of St. Cloud, Minnesota, is a snowboarder who suffered a compound fracture of his left knee after veering off course and flying off his snowmobile during a snocross race ten years ago. After several surgeries, his leg was amputated above the knee. Wanting to continue playing action sports, Schultz created his own prosthetic knee, the Moto Knee, which consists of a mountain bike shock and a linkage system for which he has a patent. He then won a motocross adaptive silver medal at the X Games and began snowboarding. Schultz founded BioDapt, Inc., a sports prosthetic company for extreme sports athletes, in 2010. In the same year, he became the first person to win gold medals at the X Games and Winter X Games; he was also inducted into the Athletes with Disabilities Network Hall of Fame in the United States. Schultz will compete at the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next week. His fellow snowboarders use the Moto Knee as well as the Versa Foot. Schultz is married with one daughter. To learn more about him, go to

Image result for mike schultz
Mike Schultz
(image from Zimbio)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Spotlight: Nick Vujicic

Earlier this month, a brief video about motivational speaker Nick Vujicic ( was posted on Facebook. Vujicic was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, with no arms or legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome. He was depressed as a child because of bullying and loneliness. Inspired to share his life story, Vujicic began public speaking at age 17 and has traveled to more than 55 countries. He founded an Evangelistic ministry called Life Without Limbs in 2005 and the motivational speaking company Attitude is Altitude two years later. Vujicic lives with his wife and four young children in southern California to which he moved in 2007. He will be one of the guest speakers at the Better Man Event at Calvary Church Orlando in Winter Park on Saturday, March 3. For more information about this event and Vujicic, go to

Image result for nick vujicic
Nick Vujicic

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Spotlight: Mike Andrzejewski

On last Thursday's episode of the Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Mike Andrzejewski of Buffalo, New York, beat Anthony Nelson, a chef from Washington, D.C., in a preliminary round involving shishito peppers. Then, Andrzejewski (the chef-owner of SeaBar and Cantina Loco) defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a loco moco cook-off. (Loco moco is a dish that consists of beef, fried rice, eggs, and gravy served in a heap.) Andrzejewski's win against Flay is the latest achievement in his impressive career, which includes participation in the Taste of the NFL and perfect 10 ratings from food critics. Andrzejewski, who hosted a Beat Bobby Flay watch party at SeaBar, has a prosthetic left leg because he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident years ago. His accomplishments show a disability doesn't stop some people from achieving their goals. For more details on this story, go to

Image result for mike andrzejewski
Mike Andrzejewski after beating Bobby Flay
(image from

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 14: It's Not Just Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 14, is widely known in the United States as Valentine's Day. However, there are other happenings on that day. Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol will take place from 8:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. (Developmental disabilities refer to specific conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and kernicterus.) Attendees can visit exhibitors, go to a press conference and a rally, have lunch in the Capitol Courtyard, and meet with legislators. For more information about developmental disabilities, go to

February 14, 2018, is also the day registration for the 20th Annual Family Cafe opens on its website (Please refer to my post "Promoting My Life Story at the Family Cafe" from June 13, 2015, to read about my experience with this event). The conference features information, training, and networking opportunities as well as the Governor's Summit on Disabilities. There is no admission fee for the Family Cafe, which will take place June 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando (a limited number of attendees will receive financial assistance for hotel rooms).

As a Roman Catholic, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention February 14 this year is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a period of preparation for Easter (April 1). What will you be doing on February 14?

Image result for february 14
Image from

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Accessibility of Cruises

Last week, my parents, aunt, and uncle and I were on a Royal Caribbean cruise that started in Port Canaveral. Oasis of the Seas, the ship on which we sailed, is mostly handicap accessible. (For those of you who like to gamble, I was disappointed to see there is only one handicap accessible blackjack table in the ship's casino with a pricey $10 minimum bet per hand. So, I played a couple of slot machines, which are barely accessible to wheelchair users after the slot machine chair is removed). I saw other people in power chairs and scooters, but I left my power chair at home and used my manual wheelchair instead because I was unsure about accessibility at the ports of call. My parents and I stayed in an accessible stateroom (a little bigger than a non-accessible stateroom) with sufficient space for me to maneuver my wheelchair.

Shortly after signing up for this cruise last summer, I stumbled upon a Lonely Planet article about accessibility in the Caribbean. The article, written by Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016 Sylvia Longmire, contains brief descriptions of two of the cruise's ports of call: Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (the Dutch western side of St. Martin) and San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was excited to go to these cities. Philipsburg is mainly flat with accessible sidewalks and entrances to restaurant and shops such as the Belgian Chocolate Box and Fudge House, where my dad and I picked up a few sweet treats before going back on our cruise ship. Cobblestones and steep streets make it challenging for wheelchair users to explore San Juan. However, wheelchair users can be transported in vans with lifts like Rico Sun Tours. If I had more than a few hours in San Juan, I would've utilized an accessible van service. My cruise's third port of call was Labadee, a private section of Haiti for Royal Caribbean cruisers. There is an accessible pathway to a pavilion by Dragon's Cafe where there is a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea bordered by a beach with lightly colored sand.

My overall positive experience in Philipsburg, San Juan, and San Juan shows Caribbean cruises are possible for people with physical disabilities. For more information on accessibility in the Caribbean, go to Don't forget your passport!

Image result for royal caribbean oasis of the seas
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas
(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Spotlight: Ollie Cantos

Olegario "Ollie" Cantos VII is a Filipino-American attorney who is blind due to medical complications at birth. Cantos is known for being the highest-ranking person with a disability in the United States government. He served as Associate Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House for two terms under President George W. Bush. Cantos's most rewarding role was being a mentor to blind triplet boys whom he adopted. Nowadays, Cantos serves under President Donald Trump as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education. He is also a motivational speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting Cantos when he was the keynote speaker at a Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) conference in Orlando in 2008. For more information, go to

Image result for ollie cantos 
Cantos with President George W. Bush
(image obtained from