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Ms. Wheelchair President Shelly Loose is Expanding the Pageant

In 2007, Shelly Loose was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan, and competed in the national Ms. Wheelchair America pageant where her life was changed forever. Shelly went into the pageant with her mind set on winning, and even though she didn’t leave with the crown, she did meet contestants who became some of her best friends. A decade later, Shelly is the President of Ms. Wheelchair America and she is working towards expanding the pageant to include representatives from all 50 states.

In addition to being President of Ms. Wheelchair America, Shelly is also the state coordinator for Michigan. There are currently 28 states in the US that have annual pageants, but that doesn’t rule out anyone from the remaining states from competing. Independent delegates are able to write an essay explaining their platform for states that do not have an official pageant. The national board reads these submissions and crowns one of the girls as Ms. Wheelchair for their state, and they are invited to participate in the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. The independent delegate that is selected becomes the state coordinator for the next year and is in charge of organizing and coordinating their state’s pageant moving forward.

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Happy New Year: It’s Been a Busy Year at MobilityWorks

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already coming to a close. This past year was filled with special events and milestones at MobilityWorks. Here is a look back at a few of the memorable moments from 2017:

20 Year AnniversaryIn 1997, Bill Koeblitz purchased a single store in Akron, OH and soon after brought on his good friend Taylor Clark to run the commercial division. Over the past 20 years they have grown MobilityWorks to 72 locations across the country.

“The mission in 1997 was the same as it is today: To provide wheelchair users with the independence and personal freedom to go where they want to go, and to do what they want to do,” ~Bill Koeblitz

MobilityWorks Expands to San Antonio – Over the summer Alamo Mobility officially became a part of MobilityWorks with two locations in San Antonio and Selma.

New Locations in the Northeast – MobilityWorks is excited to be serving new clients in Woburn (Near Boston), Buffalo, NY and Bear, DE.

New Accessible Chrysler Pacifica – The most innovative minivan to be released in years is now wheelchair accessible and available with infloor or foldout ramp options. Click here to view available inventory.

Toyota XL Conversion – BraunAbility released the Toyota XL conversion with more interior space and a redesigned ramp. Click here to learn more

MobilityWorks Locations Moved – Our stores in Pittsburgh, Skokie/Niles, IL and Parkville, MD both moved to new locations in 2017.

Ms. Wheelchair Sponsorship We are proud sponsor of the Ms. Wheelchair Pageant. Throughout 2017 and 2018 we posted or will be posting blogs about the pageant and participants involvement in the community.

Test Drive Events – Over the course of 2017, MobilityWorks locations across the country hosted open house test drive events with special savings. Keep an eye out for more test drives and open houses in 2018.

Launch of MobilityGuard – Our new extended service contract MobilityGuard is available on any wheelchair accessible vehicle. Please call our Client Care Center at 877-275-4912 for more information.

We wish everyone a joyful New Year!

The Wheelchair Mommy

Priscilla Hedlin, also known as “The Wheelchair Mommy” has been blogging about her life for over 15 years. She documents her everyday life in Pflugerville a small suburb of Austin, TX and talks about what life is like raising three young boys. Her blog covers a little bit of everything from skydiving and purchasing a sailboat, to dealing with family hardships.

In the fall of 1999, Priscilla was in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury. While recovering in the hospital, one of her nurses gave Priscilla a book titled “Joni: An Unforgettable Story” by Joni Eareckson Tada. After reading it, Priscilla realized for the first time that she wanted to document her life, and soon setup a website to share her stories. In the beginning, the blog was mostly about her life and recovering from the spinal cord injury. She then began writing more about her husband, children and their adventures.

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6 Tips for a Safe and Accessible Halloween

Every October millions of children participate in neighborhood “Trick or Treating” across the country. Most communities do a fantastic job of providing additional safety and resources, however one thing that is often overlooked is the issue of accessibility. Here are 6 helpful tips that can help improve your child’s Halloween experience:

1) Look for Community Events – Travelling through neighborhoods can be difficult, especially when the weather is bad and people sit inside their homes with steps up to a door or front porch. Often times local churches or organizations will host indoor events or parking lot trick or treats where accessibility is easier. If your community doesn’t offer these type of events, now is a great time to start the conversation for next year.

2) Find the Best Route – Plan out the right route for you. Find familiar areas that you know have proper street lighting and bigger sidewalks that can accommodate your needs. Apartments and condominiums will sometimes have their own hours for handing out candy, and often times they will have better accessibility than private homes.

3) Be Safe – Every year safety is at the top of every parent’s mind. Here are few reminders to help keep everyone safe:

  •  Add lights, reflective tape, flashlights or glow sticks to costumes so drivers can see you at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for vehicles backing up and look both ways when crossing the street. 
  • Park in safe, well lighted areas that allow you to remove your wheelchair easily. 
  • As a driver, slow down and be on alert during Trick or Treating hours. Build in extra time to get to your destination and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic.

4) Plan with Your Neighbors – If you live in a large neighborhood there is a good chance that people either won’t know or may forget that there is a possibility their home may be visited Halloween evening by a child in a wheelchair. By just spreading the word your neighbors will be mindful and accommodating.

5) Have your Own Party – For anyone who is really feeling ambitious throwing your own Halloween get together is one of the best options. There are countless ideas online for games, decorations and themed recipes. This also gives the adults a chance to get together and have some fun!

 6) Raise the Issue – If you notice that your community is not doing enough to provide inclusive, family-friendly events, Halloween is a great opportunity to speak up. Often times places like pumpkin patches and haunted houses overlook the need for ramps and accessible options. Contacting owners and organizers can go a long way in improving accessibility in your community when it comes to other events throughout the year.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

5 Tips to Prevent Wheelchair Theft

Unfortunately, wheelchair theft is on the rise in the United States. Sadly, with the Holiday Season also comes a spike in thefts – especially at malls, shopping centers, nursing homes and medical facilities. Everything from specialty wheelchairs to simple transport wheelchairs are being stolen from homes, businesses and hospitals. These criminals are typically disassembling the wheelchairs for scrap metal, just to make a few dollars.

Here are a few tips to help stop these pathetic criminals in their tracks:

  1. Know the Serial and Model Number of Your Wheelchair – This may seem very simple, but having this information ready can help authorities verify that the stolen wheelchair is yours. Keep a picture of your wheelchair on you just in case. Even having a unique sticker or decoration on your wheelchair can be helpful.
  2. Consider a Locking Device – If you ever have to leave your wheelchair unattended, there are anti-fold locking devices similar to what you see on bicycles available online for less than $50. Other types of models are wheelchair specific and have tall bars that would make it impossible for thieves to get the wheelchair into a car without the key.
  3. Electronic Tracking Devices – New products are hitting the market that allow you to track and locate stolen objects directly from your smart phone. Most of these are specifically designed for wallets, keys etc…but are perfect for this as well!
  4. Don’t Leave Spare or Backup Wheelchairs in your Car or Garage – Both of these places can be an easy target for theft. If this is the only place you have room for a spare wheelchair, cover it with a sheet or tarp to avoid someone spotting it (especially if your wheelchair is or looks expensive).
  5. Alert Authorities and Online Community – If your wheelchair is stolen, don’t hesitate to contact the police. Using social media can also be instrumental in your chair’s safe return. Check sites like Craigslist and eBay for someone trying to sell it quickly.