A little over a year ago Eliza McIntosh was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2017. Since that time, she has gotten married, visited 21 states and two countries to advocate on behalf of the wheelchair community, and will be graduating this spring with a degree in Political Science from the University of Utah!
Eliza was surprised when her name was announced as winner of Ms. Wheelchair America 2017, because she knew there were so many other deserving contestants. As the second youngest winner since the pageant was founded, she ran into a challenge by winning. She was still enrolled at college and due to her scholarships restrictions had to remain in school. Fortunately, The University of Utah deemed Eliza’s new role as an internship so she was able to remain a student.
You will be hard pressed to find a high school student with more drive and determination than Jack Wolf, a Senior at Brecksville/Broadview Heights High School, just south of Cleveland, Ohio. Just a few years ago, Jack earned the prestigious honor of Eagle Scout, he was a state ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy and most recently he and his service dog “Tommy” have gained national media attention as part of their school marching band.
In 2005, Jack was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, but that has never stopped him from chasing his dreams. Jack has been playing the euphonium, a baritone brass horn similar to the tuba, since he was in 5th grade. During his Freshman year, Jack approached his parents about joining the marching band with all of his best friends. His father Brian Wolf designed a contraption out of PVC to hold Jack’s instrument in place, and added a controller to the left side of the wheelchair so Jack would be able to steer and play at the same time. Then all that was left to do was learn all of the songs and marching formations.
In celebration of Halloween, we thought that it would be the perfect time to catch up with one of the great organizations we have wrote about in the past, Magic Wheelchair. A few years ago we wrote a story about Magic Wheelchair, a non profit organization dedicated to making the most incredible costumes for kids in wheelchairs. Since that time, founders Ryan and Lana Weimer have worked with volunteers all across the country to create some of the coolest costumes we have ever seen!
Earlier this year, six different children reached out to Magic Wheelchair to inquire about having popular super hero costumes created. In grand fashion, Magic Wheelchair delivered by designing and building costumes for the entire “Justice League”. Over the summer, the new friends showed off their super hero suits at the 2017 Comic Con in San Diego, California. The costumes were presented to the children and their families with the help of Adam Savage, former co-host of MythBusters and editor-in-chief of the website Tested.
Check out the video below to see Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Batman, Super Girl, The Flash and Aquagirl in action:
This year is Magic Wheelchair’s third Halloween and with the help of generous donations and volunteers they have gone above and beyond! You can visit the Magic Wheelchair Facebook page to view videos of costume reveals from across the country.
Magic Wheelchair is always accepting applications for costumes and are happy to build costumes for occasions outside of Halloween. Kids, with their parents permission, can submit a 1-3 minute video at www.magicwheelchair.org and they will pair as many children as possible with their volunteers.
For over 25 years Canine Partners for Life has been dedicated to training service dogs to assist individuals all over the country. MobilityWorks General Manager Jerald Ochsner has worked with their organization for years, and with a new group of puppies arriving soon they have asked for our help to pick a name!
Canine Partners for Life owns a 45-acre property in Cochranville, PA that houses a state-of-the-art training facility. They have placed over 650 service and companion dogs in homes where they help bring independence and a better quality of life to their owners. The total cost to raise, train, place and provide lifetime support for a service dog can be incredibly expensive. As a non-profit organization, Canine Partners for Life only asks that a fraction of this cost be donated by recipients of their service dogs.
In addition to traditional service dogs that help people with physical limitations, Canine Partners for Life also trains seizure and cardiac alert dogs that can warn their owner if they are in danger. They are one of the few organizations worldwide that train seizure alert dogs. The majority of the service dogs they train are Labrador retrievers, but they sometimes work with golden retrievers, poodles and labradoodles. Poodles are a popular breed of service dog because they are hypo-allergenic.
At any given time, Canine Partners for Life has 50 to 60 puppies being raised by volunteers. Caregivers raise the puppy for 8-10 months and are responsible for providing basic obedience training and exposure to public environments. Around the time of the puppies 1st birthday they return back to the training facility where they perfect their obedience skills and start to learn the very specialized tasks they will be required to perform.
One very important step to begin this training process is picking the service dog’s name. Canine Partners for Life has asked Mobilityworks for assistance in this process. The employees at MobilityWorks have narrowed it down to 5 names and now we need your help by voting for your favorite name below. Voting ends October 25th.
Mary Elizabeth McAuley was a very special young woman who touched the lives of many in the town of Hendersonville, Tennessee. People all over the Northeast suburb of Nashville knew Mary for her radiant smile and positive attitude that was so strong, it was practically contagious. Due to complications at birth, Mary was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Unfortunately, Mary passed away in 2015, but in honor of her memory her family is raising funds to construct a state-of-the-art inclusive playground where all of Mary’s friends can play.
Mary’s parents Tommy and Rachel have been very creative when it comes to fundraising by hosting several events and working with local businesses. They have partnered with Middle Tennessee Audiology, who is donating $5 from every hearing test towards the playground.In addition, the family has organized a half-marathon, started a memorial brick drive and have secured sponsorship from several local companies. One of their biggest contributions for the playground came from winning the USA Today’s “A Community Thrives” grant contest. The $50,000 award helped put Mary’s Magical Place fundraising above their initial goal.
The playground will feature several wheelchair accessible pieces of equipment including a swing that doesn’t require children to transfer from their manual or power wheelchair, a roundabout style “Ability Whril” and a “Sway Fun Glider”. Other thoughtful inclusive features at Mary’s Magical Place include a musical instrument display, sign language mural, braille boards and sensory items for children with autism.
The city of Hendersonville has already set aside several acres of land in Veterans Park for the inclusive playground and has agreed to keep up with maintenance after construction is completed. The city will bid out the project later this year and hope to have the playground completed by May of 2018.