I was born with spina bifida and have used a wheelchair for mobility since 1982. I use both a manual and a power wheelchair. I got my nickname Leaping Larry in 1986 when I did a skydive for a local TV Station.
I use my manual wheelchair when I drive. It is more economical for me to use a vehicle without a wheelchair lift because there are fewer things to worry about not working and having to repair.
I have done more things from my wheelchair than most people who can walk. I have not let my so-called "disability" stop me from doing things I love to do. I really did not notice the barriers a person that uses a wheelchair for mobility faces until I could no longer walk and had to use a wheelchair to get around. I call my chair my chariot of freedom, because without it I am not mobile. It is a relationship I do not like, but without my chariot, I am stuck in one place. One of the things I disliked the most was not being able to visit friends and relatives in their places of residence because of them not being accessible.
This is my first Rolling Without Limits blog post. I would like to share a poem I wrote called "I am not my chair."
I AM NOT MY CHAIR
I am not my chair is that all you see ? I am not my chair but you don't see me. Rolling around looks like fun but it is just a tool to get things done. I'm not confined or bound. it's just how I get around. I'm a artist, a poet, a writer a teacher. I'm everyday people and sometimes a preacher. I can be brash, I can be bold but people that is how I roll !
I turned 70 years old on my birthday last summer, so I have spent half of my life rolling around in a wheelchair in both wheelchair sports and daily living. I have done some public speaking and I belong to a local non profit organization in Detroit, Michigan called W.O.W. (Warriors On Wheels) an advocacy group for persons with disabilities and senior citizens. I was once asked this question at a handicap forum,"What is the politically correct term to call a person with a disability: handicap, handicapable, differently abled, when we address you?"
My answer is always the same: "Why don't you ask me my name and use that. "
I hope you enjoyed my poem and article, and as the tattoo on my left had says " LIFE ROLLS ON."