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“Open Sesame”—Touch-Free Smartphone Aids Mobility-Impaired Individuals

The Sesame smartphone is an Android device which was designed specifically for people with spinal cord injuries, ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and other mobility impairments.

The Sesame smartphone is activated through the clever voice command; “Open Sesame” and is then operated entirely through head movements and voice control.

The smartphone has a front-facing camera that searches for your face in the frame. Once the system finds your face, you control a cursor by moving your head up, down or sideways. When you rest in one position for a few seconds, a navigation icon appears asking you if you want to click, swipe, see more options or exit by moving the cursor to hover over one of four circles that appear on the screen like a compass.

The Sesame smartphone allows users touch-free capability.

Sesame was developed by Oded Ben Dov, an Israeli entrepreneur, app developer and computer expert and Giora Livne, who served as a naval commander in the Israeli Defense Forces and then worked as an electrical power engineer in the private sector. Dov became a quadriplegic after an accident approximately 10 years ago.

One day, Livne spotted Dov on a television program in which Dov was showcasing a mobile video game he had created that was controlled via head gestures. Livne reached out to Dov and inquired as to whether he was up to the challenge of working with him to create a touch-free phone.

The company the two men created; Sesame Enable, was named a winner of Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award for 2014.



Crowdfunding Websites Helping Many with Mobility Needs

MobilityWorks is often asked to endorse, support and promote an individual or family’s fundraising efforts. In many cases, they have a created a crowdfunding page on a website such as GoFundMe. Friends and organizations will also create crowdfunding pages on behalf of a family in need. These crowdfunding websites are getting more popular by the day – and we have witnessed several recent success stories for people specifically needing a wheelchair van and other equipment to help with their mobility needs. Below is one example of a brother and sister that came to our attention.

Travis & Lily

4 year old Travis Whitman requires a lot of medical equipment to help with his mobility.

We were recently sent a post by Nick Cortino, our Plainfield Illinois General Manager, for Travis and Lily Whitman of Kaneville, IL. Travis became ill at about 6 months old, and he was placed on a ventilator. He uses a power wheelchair for mobility and is now 4 years old. He became a big brother to Lily in November, 2014. Now 3 months old, Lily has also been placed on a ventilator. The van Robert and Emma have will no longer be spacious enough to transport both kids, medical equipment for both kids, and Travis's chair. To date, they have raised $8,000 of their $35,000 goal.

If you would like to learn more about Travis and Lily – or would like to donate to their cause, please visit the Travis & Lily page here.

Crowdfunding Websites Currently Available

Below are some of the crowdfunding websites that can be utilized for raising funds for a particular cause. Each has its own features and benefits that should be researched thoroughly before using. Not all are designed for those with a medical need so please do your homework before making any decisions. FAIR WARNING! These websites typically collect a percentage of the funds being raised, which can be anywhere from 2% to 5%, however the results may be well worth trying. MobilityWorks does not endorse nor imply that any one site is better than any other.

Crowdfunding and the Able Act

The ABLE Act stands for “A Better Life Experience”. For many people with disabilities, and specifically for those who have children with a disability, it’s a major change in the IRS tax code that affects how individuals, caregivers, parents and friends can collect and save money for the future -- without having to worry about its effect on other benefits, such as the Medicaid program. Tax-free savings accounts are now available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation (incl. wheelchair accessible vans). For more information about the ABLE ACT, go to the National Disability Institute website at


MobilityWorks of Pittsburgh and the MobilityWorks Foundation Help “Smiles for Ted”

Ted Pence (third from left) with friends and members of the community. Photo Credit: Trib Total Media

Ted Pence of Youngwood, PA was born with Spina Bifida, a condition which causes vertebrae to form improperly around part of the spinal cord. Ted’s condition has resulted in his needing to walk on braces with crutches under his arms. Ted’s girlfriend, Wendy Garofalo, was also born with Spina Bifida. Her case is a little more severe and as a result she relies on the use of a wheelchair to get around. Yet, no matter what, Ted and Wendy enjoy going out, being active, social and involved in their community.

When Ted and Wendy’s vehicle was totaled in an accident, they were unable to purchase a replacement; which made their lives quite difficult….until Kraisinger Family Dentistry stepped in to help.

Dr. Paul Kraisinger and Ted Pence were classmates who reunited at a 25th class reunion event. When he heard his story, Kraisinger was moved to help his former classmate. As a result, he began the “Smiles for Ted” campaign to raise money to help Pence and his girlfriend purchase a new vehicle.

In order to raise money for “Smiles for Ted”, Kraisinger Family Dentistry offers teeth whitening services at a discount, with 100% of the proceeds of each service going to the fundraiser.

MobilityWorks of Pittsburgh’s own General Manager; Lynne Sefchik is a patient of Kraisinger Family Dentistry. She knew of a vehicle that would be coming in to her store; a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with 32,000 miles, that she felt would work for Pence and Garofalo.

Since Garafolo uses a wheelchair full-time, the vehicle would need to be upgraded to include a power pull mechanism which would enable her to access it. To help finance the vehicle, Sefchik worked through the MobilityWorks Foundation. The MobilityWorks Foundation agreed to cover the cost of the upgrades to the vehicle. In addition, Dr. Kraisinger worked to secure an interest-free loan to cover the remaining costs of the vehicle.

To-date, Pence and Garafolo still need to raise approximately $9,000, so Kraisinger is continuing to conduct the “Smiles for Ted” fundraiser. The Mt. Pleasant and Greensburg Kraisinger Family Dentistry offices both offer a $350 teeth whitening procedure for $175. The practices use materials donated by Ultradent Products Inc.

If you live in the area and are interested in the procedure and in helping the “Smiles for Ted” campaign, please call 724-836- DENT (3368).



Go Green! Support the MDA Shamrock Campaign to Raise Awareness and Critical Funds

Each year during the month of March, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) conducts their “Buy a Shamrock” fundraising campaign.

When you visit participating retailers and purchase either a $1.00 green shamrock, a $5.00 gold shamrock or a higher-level platinum paper mobile, you help raise money to save the lives of people who are fighting muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy and ALS.

The funds raised through the “Buy a Shamrock” campaign fund research to find treatments and cures, provide comprehensive health care services and support families.  In addition, funds raised also provide families with access to life-changing summer camps, state-of-the-art support programs and more!

Nearly 31,000 retailers nationwide rally together to raise funds for the MDA Shamrock Program each year!

For more information on the “Buy a Shamrock” campaign, including listings of participating retailers in your area, please visit the MDA website. Go Green!


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MobilityWorks Foundation Brings Island Entertainment to Akron Ohio

Enjoy a Day of Music and Fun to Help Northeast Ohio Charities Serving People with Disabilities – Saturday, March 14th 2015 Starting at 12:30 PM

Singer, Songwriter, Poet and Philosopher Mike "Mad Dog" Adams

A full day of entertainment by some of the best island musicians in the country are coming to Akron’s Tangier to help raise money for an excellent cause. Event proceeds will go toward The MobilityWorks Foundation in support of Northeast Ohio charities serving the disabled community. A silent auction will also be held at the event.

If you live near the Cleveland or Akron area, here’s a chance to see the legendary Mike “Mad Dog” Adams and several other exciting Put-In-Bay island entertainers. In addition to Mike Adams, entertainment will be provided by by The Reese Dailey Band, Blues Guitarist Mike Lenz, and the Flyin Jays. A $40 ticket also includes sandwiches and other snacks provided by The Tangier. The event also has a cash bar (21 and over only).

Order Your Tickets Today!

Tickets can be purchased online or you can call Tangier Entertainment at 330-376-7171. To order, go to the Tangier Entertainment website and look for Mike "Mad Dog Adams", March 14, 2015. The event is expected to sell out, so order your tickets soon. The event is an afternoon show starting at 12:30 PM!

Mike 'Mad Dog Adams' and Ohio's Put-In-Bay Entertainers

For the tens of thousands of annual vacationers who venture out to Ohio’s Put-In-Bay for Western Lake Erie sunsets, beaches, fishing tours, historic shops, saloons and wine tours, one of the can’t miss experiences of South Bass Island is a night with singer/songwriter Mike “Mad Dog” Adams. He can often be seen at the Round House Bar, one of the many historic establishments on the island. During the winter months, Mike is also a regular down south in Key West Florida. The variety and quality of music by all of the Put-In-Bay Entertainers can't be matched anywhere. We thank them all for their generosity in supporting our efforts.