Last week, the nation mourned George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. One of his greatest accomplishments as president was signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on July 26, 1990, an event four years in the making. In 1986, Bush (who was vice president under Ronald Reagan at the time) and his wife Barbara read an early draft of the ADA before he met with the National Council on Disability. The proposal, which he supported, was meaningful to him because he had a daughter who died of leukemia at age three and a son who had a learning disability that included difficulty reading. Bush himself had to use a wheelchair in the last years of his life because he had a form of Parkinson's disease. The disability community, myself included, is forever grateful to him. For more information, go to https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-george-h-w-bush-proved-himself-to-the-disability-rights-community.
Despite being blind, Jake Olson recently completed his fourth season as the University of Southern California (USC) football team's long snapper. His left eye was surgically removed when he was ten months old due to retinoblastoma. Olson had cancer in his right eye eight times before it was removed at age 12 in 2009. Before that surgery, his wish was to see the USC football team in person one more time. He watched their team practice after receiving an invitation from the head coach Pete Carroll, now the Seattle Seahawks head coach.
Even though he lost his sight, Olson wanted to play football, so he focused on becoming a long snapper for his high school's team. Two years later after joining USC's football team, he played in his first college game and helped the kicker score an extra point. Olson's teammates helped him by clapping so he'd know the distance of the snap and tapping his leg when it was time for him to snap the football. Olson, a motivational speaker and author of two books, received the 2018 Walter Camp Football Foundation's Award of Perseverance on November 21. Three days later, he took the USC football field for the last time, accompanied by his father and guide dog Quebec. For more details on this story, go to http://www.ksro.com/2018/11/30/blind-usc-senior-walks-the-football-field-for-the-last-time-as-a-trojan/.
Here's an item your caregiver might want to add to his or her Christmas wish list: TGA Mobility's Wheelchair PowerPac - Caregiver power assist. Resting on a platform behind the wheelchair, the Wheelchair PowerPac is connected to the rear handlebars of a manual wheelchair, enabling the caregiver to simply guide the chair at a rate of three to four miles per hours instead of pushing it. This product manufactured in the United Kingdom makes it easier for the caregiver to move the wheelchair up a ten-degree slope, and it can go for ten miles on one charge. The Wheelchair PowerPac, which weighs 14 to 17 pounds and can be easily removed, works for a wheelchair user who weighs up to 445 pounds. A suitcase with wheels can be purchased for the storage and transport of the PowerPac. Leaving its warehouse in two weeks, this item is currently being sold for $999 with monthly payments as low as $32.24. For more information, go to https://www.1800wheelchair.com/product/wheelchair-powerpac-caregiver-power-assist/.
Established in 1977, Disability Rights Florida (a member of the National Disability Rights Network) is a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities in our state. Offered within eight programs, the organization's services (which are free and confidential) include investigations into abuse, neglect, and rights violations; dispute resolution; and negotiation and mediation. Its goals for 2019 are to eliminate barriers to inclusion and to provide leadership on disability issues. For more information on how Disability Rights Florida can help you or a loved one with a disability, go to http://www.disabilityrightsflorida.org/.
Known for being an Olympic gold medalist in sprinting, Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, on June 23, 1940. The 20th of her father's 22 children, Rudolph was sickly as a child and wasn't expected to walk again after contracting polio. However, she overcame this setback by wearing leg braces and doing physical and massage therapy until she was 11 years old. In high school, Rudolph played basketball, setting state records, and began sprinting. She was noticed by the Tennessee State University women's track coach with whom she trained during summer vacations. At age 16, Rudolph helped her three teammates win bronze in the 400-meter relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years, she became more famous after winning the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 400-meter relay at the Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. This made her the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Olympic. After retiring from sprinting in 1963, Rudolph completed her elementary education degree. She then taught at an elementary school and coached track and field at her high school while being a mother of four. She published her autobiography Wilma in 1977 and established the Wilma Rudolph Foundation among other endeavors. On this day 24 years ago, Rudolph died of a brain tumor at home in Brentwood, Tennessee. To learn more about this woman who didn't let disability slow her down, go to https://www.notablebiographies.com/Ro-Sc/Rudolph-Wilma.html.
When she was 17 years old last year, Danielle Rothchild (with the assistance of her friend Delaney Martin) founded Danielle Cares for Chairs, a nonprofit that collects bread tags. These tags are on bags of foods such as fruits and vegetables as well as bread. The bread tags are taken to a recycling plant, and the proceeds go toward the purchase of wheelchairs and other mobility products. Rothchild, who has made dresses out of recycled materials, was inspired to establish her organization by her involvement with Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). (I was a FCCLA member in the eighth grade.) Since she graduated from high school in Carmel, Indiana, earlier this year, she's been volunteering for REVERB (an environmental sustainability company) and started college. However, she still makes time for Danielle Cares for Chairs and was featured as the top story on Teen Kids News last month. For more information, go to https://daniellecaresforch.wixsite.com/daniellecareforchair.
Averie Mitchell, an eleven-year-old from Oklahoma, is a gymnast who isn't hindered by her leg prosthetic. She was diagnosed with pseudarthrosis, which caused her right leg to have a false joint. Mitchell's leg was amputated below the knee when she was two years old. She quickly adjusted to her first prosthetic and became interested in gymnastics in which she trains three hours a day, four days a week. Mitchell competed with 13 of her teammates in the AAU National Gymnastic Championship in Tampa last June. She engages in outdoors activities with her family and has a dog named Hattie, a black Labrador mix that's also missing part of one of her right legs. Mitchell, an honor roll student, eventually wants to study physical therapy and be on the gymnastics team at the University of Oklahoma. For more information about Mitchell, go to https://newsok.com/article/5603309/eleven-year-old-hugo-gymnast-averie-mitchell-is-an-inspiration.