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Re-engineering Sam — Glimpse Into The Future

Sam-600What started out as a team-building exercise to the Cleveland International film festival quickly became a possible look into the future of our industry, a reaffirmation of how life can change in an instant, and a renewed appreciation for how passion with a positive optimistic outlook can drive people to do the unimaginable.

The film “Re-engineering Sam” chronicles the journey of quadriplegic Sam Schmidt, an Indy race car driver who despite a crash in 2000 that rendered him a quadriplegic, never lost his hope or passion to drive. Throughout the movie you are drawn to Sam, his family, and their very honest portrayal of everyday vulnerabilities. Sam’s incredible drive to race and be a part of the racing industry has had an impact on everyone close to him. It would, inevitably, be the impact that Sam had on a fan, that would make his dreams of driving a car again come true.

During the film we are given an inside look at the doctors and scientists, who are just as driven and dedicated as Sam, to advancing adaptive technologies. Their ground-breaking technology that utilizes head movements and brain waves is paving the way for advances in the way people with spinal cord injuries operate and communicate. For Sam, the technology has allowed him to drive again.

May of 2016, Sam attained 152 mph in his adapted car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sam’s car uses four cameras to monitor his head and transmit his movements to the tires. He also uses voice commands to switch gears, head motions to steer and breath manipulation to accelerate and brake. In September, he was awarded the first restricted license in the nation to drive a semi-autonomous car by Nevada Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison. Driverless technology may be on the horizon, but for passionate drivers like Sam there’s nothing better than being behind the wheel.

Family Raises Money to Purchase Over 500 Wheelchairs

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Eight years ago a determined first grader opened up “Zack’s Shack”, a lemonade and cookie stand, with the hopes of raising around $85 to donate one wheelchair. He’s far exceeded that initial goal, managing to raise over $75,000 to purchase more than 500 wheelchairs! As Zack prepares to enter high school, he is handing over the reins to his younger sister Helen. She will carry on the family business in the form of “Helen’s Hut”.

Over the years Zack’s Shack has gained National media attention from several outlets including People Magazine and The Huffington Post. He even received large donations from Steve Harvey and a grant from State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist program. Zack started his own website www.itfeelsgreattogive.com to receive donations from those who couldn’t make it to the stand. One of the biggest challenges has been that the cost of the wheelchair has more than doubled since the first year. As he prepares to begin high school in the fall, Zack is excited to participate in sports, new activities and look for another exciting charitable project to get involved with.

Looking back on the past 8 years, his parents Nancy and Danny are amazed at what their son has been able to accomplish. They can still remember counting up the money after the second year of the stand and explaining to Zack that he needed to deduct his future expenses to run the stand the following spring. This left Zack the cost of one wheelchair short of his goal, so he ran up to his room and emptied his piggy bank to purchase the last wheelchair. Today Zack will tell anyone “It takes money to make money”.

This past year Zack and his sister worked together, but next spring it will be all 7 year old Helen’s responsibilities and she is excited for the task. She plans to add a bell to ring for service and her favorite color pink to the stand.

We wish Helen the best of luck and look forward to seeing all of the success she will have in the future. If you are ever near Provo, Utah around spring break make sure to stop by and grab some cookies and lemonade!

Check out the video below to learn more about Zack’s story:

2017 Roll On Capitol Hill

This coming June, United Spinal Association will host their 6th annual Roll on Capitol Hill event. People in wheelchairs, caregivers and advocates for improved accessibility will meet in Washington D.C. from June 11th to 14th. One of the main focuses of the event will be to convince lawmakers of the need for greater access to properly configured and medically-necessary wheelchairs for individuals with spinal cord injuries and disorders.

A major concern with the current Medicaid program is that the wheelchairs they provide to those in need are basic transport wheelchairs. Although they do provide both power and manual options, these wheelchairs are intended for short-term use and are not adjustable or fitted for the individual using them. Making sure that individuals are in a wheelchair that will work best for their medical needs is referred to as Complex Rehab Technology. This high-tech equipment requires evaluation, configuration, fitting, adjusting and programming.

On Tuesday, June 13th, hundreds of participants will get the opportunity to meet with members of Congress. They will discuss proposed policies and possible solutions to some of the largest challenges in terms of accessibility in America.  The 2017 Roll on Capitol Hill will conclude with an advocate recognition breakfast Wednesday morning.

View the video below for a recap of last year’s event, or visit www.unitedspinal.org to learn more about the 2017 Roll on Capitol Hill.

Good luck and safe travels to everyone attending, we know that your voice will help make a difference!

Selecting the Right Wheelchair Accessible Rental Van

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Renting a wheelchair van can be a great way to enjoy a day of family fun with loved ones who need to use a wheelchair and don’t have accessible transportation. Some people also rent vans for a day to help them decide whether to purchasing a handicap van — or whether a specific conversion will work with their current parking situation. Selecting the Right Rental Van will help to answer some of the common questions people have with selecting rental vans. You can also enjoy a 10% Off rental promotion between now and the end of June for rentals booked in July, August or September. Reserve a van now and save later!

MobilityWorks recently published a new video featuring Katie Muise, our National Rental Manager, where she discusses the process of selecting and renting a van from MobilityWorks. Katie has rented thousands of vans in her career and you can tell she’s excited about making people’s lives better by being able to provide this option to our clients.

Contact Katie today about renting a van for a day, week, or even longer!

 

 

Ultra-Accessible Water Park to Open in Texas

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A young girl plays at the WaterWorks tabletop attraction located at Morgan’s Wonderland. Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first ultra-accessible water park, will be completed in the coming months.

After watching children at a hotel pool hesitant to play with his special-needs daughter, Morgan, Gordon Hartman had a vision of turning an abandoned quarry in Northeast San Antonio, TX into an accessible theme park. Gordon and his wife Maggie started working on plans for Morgan’s Wonderland, the first theme park designed with special needs individuals in mind. Open since 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland has now had more than a million visitors from all 50 states and 66 other countries. The park brings together those with and without disabilities for fun and a better understanding of one another. Now in 2017, the Hartmans are excited to be finishing construction on their latest expansion, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first  ultra-accessible splash park for guests of all ages to get wet and have fun together.

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The splash park will overlook an 8-acre lake and feature six major tropically themed elements.  The River Boat Adventure ride at Morgan’s Inspiration Island will twist and turn more than an eighth of a mile through a jungle setting with bird and animal sounds in the background.  Five water play areas will offer a variety of splashy elements such as raintrees, falls, geysers, jets, water cannons and tipping buckets.

Guests of the park will have access to new wheelchairs that are completely waterproof and compressed-air powered. The PneuChair was designed by the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories. It only weighs about 80 pounds and can be fully charged in just 10 minutes.

Just like Morgan’s Wonderland, every element will be wheelchair-accessible, and waterproof wristbands with RFID technology will be available. Another wonderful aspect of Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island is that admission for anyone with special needs is always free. Throughout the summer the parks will have several special events including a giant 4th of July celebration.

An official opening date for Morgan’s Inspiration Island presented by Toyota will be coming soon. Check out their website www.MorgansWonderland.com for up to date news.

Check out the video below to learn more about Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island: