Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Katrina's Forgotten Victims: The Disabled

Due to accident, illness or age, many Americans depend on their wheelchairs. To people who have lost the use of their legs -- or, in some cases such as the late Christopher Reeves, the use of most or all of the muscles below their neck -- a wheelchair is much more than a mode of transportation. It is their freedom to move, their legs, and the place where they spend a great deal of their waking hours.

Particularly to those who need a true "rehab" wheelchair, their chair is a very personal item. It has to fit their height and weight, support them properly given their limited muscle control, and have a drive control mechanism appropriate for their specific disability: toe-controlled, finger-controlled, or, like Christopher Reeves, controlled by the puff and sip of their breath.

During and immediately following Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of wheelchair-bound people were rescued; that's the good news. The bad news is that, in most cases, their chairs were left to the ravages of rising Lake Pontchartrain. Our federal government, in its wisdom, couldn't find money in the $262 billion dedicated to hurricane relief efforts to buy appropriate replacement chairs for these individuals.

Yes, yet another example of your tax dollars not at work.

Just before Christmas, I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Bruce Bayes, the CEO of Custom Mobility. Bruce's business acumen (he has built the largest rehab dealership in the southeastern U.S.) is matched only by his passion for serving those with disabilities. After Katrina, he felt that he had to do something. His efforts have helped many disabled victims of Katrina, but more remains to be done.

So how can you help? Please visit this site.

God bless you.



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