Even though I’m only twenty-five, I miss the excitement of being a kid. To throw caution to the wind and not have a care in the world. To relive my carefree days I seize on every opportunity to be a kid again, from wheelchair racing through Lowes, and Disney to sneaking into the movies. The thrill of success is sometimes accompanied by fear of getting caught. Funny when I did silly things as a child I was never afraid of getting caught. The older I get the more fear encourages me to do what is right. Now I enjoy the smiles of the people around me that can appreciate being carefree. I noticed that when I stop to listen to a child’s laughter or being sneaky I am filled with happiness. Who doesn’t love listening to the giggles of a little girl and her sparkly purse in the sunshine? It left me reminiscing about days gone by.
A girl and her sparkly purse
I have always used the encouragement of "wanna race" to lighten the burden felt by others who need to use a mobility device, scooter, wheelchair, or such. I remember trying to encourage my Nana to do just that. She was a proud woman and only wanted to push the wheelchair or fill it with shopping bags to somehow prove she didn’t need it. I think by making it fun, everyone can enjoy it. I have had two such opportunities to “race”.
The first time was actually not a race but it brings a smile to my face to think about how happy my Papaw was to leave us all in his dust. We had gone to Epcot and got a scooter for my papaw. He doesn’t mind using the scooter as a matter of fact I think he is a kid at heart and likes to push the boundaries when he gets one. As with children who push the boundaries, he also gets himself into hot water. My papaw has Alziemers and sometimes has child-like tendencies.
Pit Stop First
So back to Epcot. We, my mom, dad, aunt, uncle, papaw, and nana had gone to Epcot for the day. We were trying unsuccessfully to figure out where to eat. My Uncle was showing my Papaw the controls of the scooter and said whatever you do, "don’t touch this button". Anybody knows that if you tell a child not to touch something the first thing they do is touch it. I will never forget the gleam in his eyes as he said "which button, this one"… You guessed it he took off like a rocket leaving all of us in the dirt. My Aunt and Uncle attempted to chase him only to realize they couldn’t outrun the scooter. At the time I think the only people who thought that was funny were my mom, dad, and me. Everyone else was mortified. My Papaw though probably felt like he had just won the Indy 500.
I finally got to do something I have been dying to do, have a wheelchair race. You may think this is not a big deal but it is and it was great fun. I hope to instill in others the fun of a quick race and the joy it brings to not only the racers but also the spectators. I never understood why my dad liked Nascar races until I had a chance to do it myself in the middle of Lowes. I have always loved home improvement stores for their wide aisles. This gave me a whole new appreciation for them on a different level.
I had the opportunity to race with my friend. He went to get a scooter as he was getting tired. He has recently become disabled. Once he came around the corner riding the scooter, we decided to have a race with each other. For the longest time, he was beating me but then all of a sudden, I saw my opportunity and pulled out in front of him. I felt so free at that moment. I have a video to prove it happened. Everybody I showed the video to said that I looked so free and I told them that I was. For the first time in weeks, my stress melted away like my favorite ice cream on a hot day. I had just won the Lowes 500 ft. Our race created not only joy for each of us but also for the customers we wizard by to the finish line. Our race shenanigans created more than a memory it created a moment for people to see the joy of being able to race.
The Lowes 500
Sneaking into the movies
Something else I had been waiting for a very long time to do but never had the nerve, nor anyone willing to do with me. I heard many of my friends say that they've done this before and I always wanted to know what it felt like. Now the opportunity was presenting itself, so I decided to take it. Carpe Diem! My partner in crime and I had gone to see Minions: The rise of Gru when it came out last year. Great movie, I highly recommend it. When the movie was over, having no particular place to go, we started whispering back and forth about sneaking into another movie. I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself. Who hasn't wanted to sneak into a movie? We started giggling like two teenage school girls whose crush just said hi to them. Not knowing what else was playing we carefully snuck into the theater. This is no easy task with a wheelchair. Thankfully the handicapped seats were open and we snuggled in to see our second movie of the day. As luck would have it we snuck into the DC League Of Super-Pets. The feeling was a rush of excitement, then fear. After about five minutes, paranoia began to creep in. What would happen to us if we got caught? Would we be arrested? Banned for Life? What would mom think? Suddenly we had to come up with a plan in case we got caught. As quickly as we came in, we left. Another moment in my memory book of things I always wanted to do. I thought it would feel so exciting and fun but in the end, it just didn’t feel right. This was not the feeling my friends had told me about. HMMM.
Have you ever overheard someone else's conversation? I overhear conversations all the time, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. I have supper sharp hearing. Mom says she has to go outside in the car with the windows up in order to have a private conversation. That being said, when I was in college I would pass the time listening to other people’s conversations.
My partner in crime and I would go to sit at the tall tables in the Atrium for lunch. Every day mom would pack my lunch and yogurt for a snack. This one particular day, we finished eating and I didn’t feel like having my yogurt. I was going to save it for later. All of a sudden, we heard young women raise their voices. I don’t know what the fascination is but I couldn’t resist. I had to know what was going on. That’s when I saw the opportunity to stay and listen to the juicy gossip. We wanted to find out what was going on. To make things look as inconspicuous as possible I decided to eat my yogurt. This way I had an excuse to be at the table, to be quiet, and to just listen. I can’t remember what the issue was at the time but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. From that day on, it became a standing joke whenever there is juicy gossip around, I always ask for yogurt, even if I don’t have one in my lunch box.
Sometimes it's fun to do the unexpected
Life is too short to not seize every opportunity to giggle like a schoolgirl, have a wheelchair race in the middle of Lowes, take off like a rocket in Epcot, or eat yogurt. Not all of the chances we take turn out the way we expect, I guess that is life. That’s what makes things interesting. Once again I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to do things that people don’t expect a person with a disability to be able to do.
I bet you didn't expect me to zipline
Developmental Disability Month
In honor of Developmental Disability Awareness Month, my podcast recommendations on disability are
The Accessible Stall via all platforms
These podcasts have powerful personal stories of individuals with disabilities that show the positive side of having a disability and it’s not all bad. They are funny but they get the message across that we are people and we want to be treated as such.
Additionally, I recommend you check out the following YouTube Videos
Stella Young: I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much | TED Talk (one of my favorites)
(121) Demystifying Disability with Emily and Ellen Ladau - YouTube, She also wrote a book Demystifying Disability,
(121) A day in the life of Nick and Gabe - YouTube these bothers are also TikToK sensations. You can follow them @nickyandgabe.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to hear my thoughts about pushing a wheelchair down the stairs and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.