SCI Life: August 2012

The Seasoned Belly Laugh Man
Long before Josh Blue and Zach Anner, there was Jeff Charlebois, a C5 quad inspired by comedy idols Groucho Marx and George Carlin, who has been working as a professional comic for the past 30 years. Charlebois was injured in 1979 after his friend fell asleep behind the wheel. “Things I’ll do for a free helicopter ride,” he cracks.

NM0812_sciAs a kid, he was always cracking jokes, and especially after his injury. Charlebois, 48, finally found the courage to put his sense of humor to work after graduating from college. “I got up for the first time at a club called ‘Wiley’s’ in Dayton, Ohio,” he says. “Scared to death, I did three minutes of material. I didn’t kill them, but I think I got some laughs. It was hard to hear over the pounding of my heart.”

Enough laughs that he wanted to do it again. Catching the performance bug, Charlebois moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of a career in comedy. Once on the west coast, he began touring clubs, doing stand-up at local colleges, even morphing his routine into motivational speaking.

Over the course of his career, Charlebois has performed at hundreds of conferences, schools and comedy clubs across the country, and with comedy acts such as Kevin Nealon and Drew Carey. As comedians are apt to do, he even expanded his talents into writing humor — he has been the staff humor columnist for Abilities magazine for the past 16 years.

Leaving no stone unturned, Charlebois has also written a handful of comedy scripts, including a sitcom pilot, “Good Sam,” which he also produced and stars in. It takes place in a NYC rehab hospital. Visit his official site: randyciak.com/jeff2

Wheelchair Snow Shoes
It may be completely unrealistic to rein a horse to your chair and turn it into an instant sleigh whenever it snows, but snapping on a pair of blades to your wheels may be the instant snow tool manual wheelchair users have been waiting for.

NM0812_sci2Patrick Mayer, a paraplegic from Switzerland, gets the credit for inventing this simple yet smart product that lets you glide as you push. It took Mayer 11 years of being bummed out each winter to get fed up and finally do something about it. His invention, which he has fittingly named Wheel Blades, is a simple design that any paraplegic or low quad should be able to independently use.

Wheel Blades are adjustable clamp closure covers that span caster wheels 1 to 6 centimeters wide. A pair will set you back $236. Learn more at www.wheelblades.ch.

Reaching Outside Our Borders
While finding a cure is the ultimate goal of the Walkabout Foundation, it is also reaching outside our borders to developing countries to give the gift of mobility while they wait: The “Rough Rider” wheelchair was developed and perfected by Whirlwind Wheelchair International (made of bicycle tubing and perfect for inaccessible terrain). To support the Walkabout Foundation, visit www.walkaboutfoundation.org.

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