Looking for Adventure?

Photo courtesy of 9Lives Adventures

Photo courtesy of 9Lives Adventures

When one hears about a friend or acquaintance going skydiving, bungee jumping, racing, white water rafting, etc., the news is usually followed by one of two reactions: “That sounds amazing. I would LOVE to do something like that” or “Wow that is terrifying. I could NEVER do something like that.” So which person are you?

For people with disabilities, hearing about someone partake in one of the adventures above, might invoke a different reaction: “I didn’t know I COULD do that.”

There are so many wonderful stories about adrenaline adventures involving people with disabilities. You may remember the young woman who went bungee jumping in her wheelchair in British Columbia last year. According to CBS News, Christi Rougoor loved racing her dirt bike and after a motocross accident left her in a wheelchair, she was searching “for that rush to replace what I have lost.” While the reasoning may not be the same for all, most people who choose these types of adventures, are indeed looking for a rush.

Recently Kyle Maynard made the news. Kyle is a 25-year-old congenital amputee with a mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Kyle was born without arms or legs, but for him that was never a barrier. The expedition aims to “demonstrate to young people with disabilities that no obstacle is too great to be conquered with an active, no-barriers lifestyle and mindset,” says the Mission Kilimanjaro website. Despite all of his accomplishments and adventures, climbing to the 19,341 ft. summit of Mt.Kilimanjaro will be Kyle’s toughest test yet.

And then there is motocross racer Ashley Fiolek, who has brought a lot of attention to the sport as a deaf athlete. Ashley explains that being deaf can be both positive and negative in this sport. Because she cannot hear when racers are on her tail, she does not feel the same pressure as other racers. However, she has to be very careful to hold her lines when racing since she cannot hear other riders passing.

Pretty cool individuals. Maybe you’re reading this article and saying “okay, I’m ready, sign me up.” If so, let us introduce you to the company that has made many adrenaline adventures possible: Canadian-based 9Lives Adventures. The founders, Karim Ladki and Matt Thola, both suffered from C7 spinal cord injuries and bonded over their love of adventure and their thrill-seeking spirits. The result? A company that specializes in tandem skydiving, bungee jumping, wheelchair skateboarding, jet boating, and sit skiing.

So if you’ve got the adrenaline bug, get to it! Jump out of a plane, climb a mountain, go jet boating. Nothing is stopping you.

 

Other organizations that promise to thrill:

Disabled Travelers: Adventure Travel Information

Epic Enabled: Accessible African Safaris

Roll Over Bali

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch

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Take a Turn in Santa’s Shoes

With the holidays just around the corner, the pressure is on to find the perfect gifts for your friends and family. So this year, why not do something different?

Throughout the year, there are always children and families in need. What better time to help someone than the season of giving?

The Jackson Sun recently published an article about the Reid family in Kentucky who are asking for help this holiday season. They adopted their daughter Jasmine when she was 12 years old. Now 20, Jasmine has cerebral palsy and scoliosis and suffers seizures. She uses a wheelchair and needs oxygen. The family cannot afford a vehicle that accommodates a wheelchair so Jasmine is limited to walks around her neighborhood.

We all have families like the Reids in our communities. This holiday season, explore the options. Giving back can mean donating toys and gifts to those in need, volunteering with your family for an afternoon, or making a monetary donation to a charity in lieu of exchanging gifts.

We did some research and found a few charities to get you started. But there are so many wonderful organizations out there. Have a look and find one that you are interested in and shares your passion for a cause.

The Sunshine Foundation is a national charity in Canada that helps children with severe physical disabilities. After losing his teenage son to muscular dystrophy, an Ontario police office created The Sunshine Foundation of Canada to brighten the lives of other children and families by fulfilling dreams.

Variety – The Children’s Charity is a philanthropic organization with locations throughout the United States. Variety’s National Mobility Program started in 2009 and provides assistance to children with mobility concerns. Children want to be active in their communities but they need access. Variety provides equipment such as adapted bicycles and medical equipment to children in need.

And in recent local news (for us here in Brampton, Ontario), singer John McDermott brings Christmas cheer to veterans during the annual Christmas concert at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. McDermott has raised more than $1 million for McDermott House Canada, a registered charity dedicated to serving those who serve. Their first project is to create an innovative and warm, home-like environment for Canadian veterans, military, first responders and community patients in the Palliative care Unit at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto.

Thank you to these organizations for all that they do. Happy holidays to all!

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One Couple’s Journey to Accessible Living

David Strawn Art Gallery (left), Loren (right)
Photos provided by Personal Mobility

At Savaria, we like to hear about our end users and how our products are making a difference in their day-to-day lives. But when we heard about Loren and Joy from Illinois, we couldn’t resist turning their story into a full blown article. This couple purchased not 1, not 2, but 3 Savaria mobility products.

Loren and Joy lived in a farmhouse in Jacksonville, Loren’s childhood home since the age of 6. Loren was an amputee and used a wheelchair. Sadly, he passed away recently at age 69. He lived in the farmhouse until he died.

Throughout his life, Loren owned lowered floor minivans, adapted full-size vans, and curved stairlifts. In 2005, the couple met with Savaria dealer, Personal Mobility, to purchase a residential lift. The first purchase was complete. A V-1504 Vertical Platform Lift was installed in their farm house. Chosen because of its durability and ease-of-use, the lift was a perfect fit for this couple. Loren was a woodworker, farmer, and overall a handy man, so he fashioned himself a rope handle for the platform gate that made it even easier still for him to enter the lift.

Loren and Joy’s farmhouse was originally part of the Jacob Strawn home place. This property was one of two built by the same couple. The other was donated to the Art Association of Jacksonville in 1915 and was converted to become the David Strawn Art Gallery. With ties to the gallery, Loren spearheaded the purchase of the second V-1504 for the building. The lift was customized with a bronze plexi glass enclosure and provides access to the main floor, elevated 9 feet off the ground.

The third product was purchased by Joy after Loren’s passing. Joy moved to a new home and though she is able-bodied, she recognizes the convenience of a home elevator and is planning for the future with her decision to install a Telecab.

All of these installations were performed by Savaria dealer, Personal Mobility. Owners Gerry and LuAnn Davis got their start in the industry when their daughter endured brain damage from an asthma attack that turned into cardiac arrest. When researching alternatives for an accessible van, the couple decided to open a mobility company to provide access for families such as themselves. Eleven years later, this family run business, in partnership with United Access, is considered to be one of the top mobility centers in Illinois.

We loved hearing Loren and Joy’s story and felt lucky to be a part of it. This wonderful couple faced physical barriers at times but they were quick to find solutions and adapt. They helped a beautiful art gallery become accessible and many will appreciate that in future years.

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