A speaker and family man, Ron Heagy, 51, from Albany, Ore., has been paralyzed the last 32 years. After diving into a breaker as a teenager, Heagy was grateful he survived despite sustaining a C3 injury. “By the grace of God, my brother swam out to find me,” he says. “It was the day before my 18th birthday.”
Afterwards, Heagy got right back into life, supported by his family and friends. “My family has been a positive influence on my life as they have always encouraged me to continue on.” With their support, he was able to complete a four-year degree in counseling, but after graduation he ran into a problem — he couldn’t find a job that paid well enough.
“I came to the conclusion that it would take a master’s degree to get me off the system and into a better job. I enrolled in San Diego State’s social work master’s program, with little idea of how I’d pull it off,” he says, “and lo-and-behold, I successfully completed my degree.”
Heagy also became a speaker post-graduation, which he loves. “I’ve learned the impact that my life can have on others,” he says. “The main message in my presentations is that life is an attitude. We can change, become better rather than bitter. Things may not change, but we can change. It’s not always easy,” he says, “but it is doable.”
Heagy is also the father of two daughters — one he and his ex-wife adopted, and another he and his current wife conceived naturally (despite low odds). “I love my girls so much,” he says, adding a tip about parenting: “Cherish your children and keep a good attitude (and a sense of humor!).”
Visit his site: rollonron.com
Dream Powerchair for Cars
Weighing only 50 pounds, the Smart Chair is the most lightweight full-on powerchair ever created, and even cooler — it’s foldable. That’s right, the Smart Chair can be folded and put in the backseat of most cars. While being able to put it back together independently, even for agile paraplegics, may be a bit tricky, it’s still a great solution if you want both a power wheelchair and the ability to ride in a car.
It also has built-in anti-tilt technology because of its lighter weight and has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds. And before you speed demons sign up for one, know that it has a slower max speed — 3.75 mph. The best part is the price. The Smart Chair costs only $1,799 — a fraction of most powerchairs (but it isn’t made for someone who needs a complex rehab powerchair). The company is based in Los Angeles.
See it at: mysmartchair.com
Accessible Golf for Vets
Located in Lakewood, Wash., the American Lakes Golf Course is one of the few fully accessible golf courses in the United States, offering 10 SoloRider golf cars and two Paragolfers for those with lower extremity disabilities. A 9-hole course made exclusively for injured veterans, it has been an all-volunteer-run course since opening in 1955.
Learn more: alvetsgolfcourse.com