Letters: April 2014

Personal Connection
I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your February cover story [“Kaitlyn & Greg: Spirited, Sexy & Sweet,” February 2014]. The charismatic, adventurous couple that Mary Tolan so wonderfully captured in her writing — and Loren Worthington in his photos — literally brought a smile to my face.

I felt a personal connection to the story because it reminded me of my husband, Ali, and me. We met surfing with “Life Rolls On.” I was the surfer and he was one of the volunteers helping me surf. Like Greg, Ali never had an issue with my disability. In fact, he has always been so comfortable with my disability that it has made me more comfortable with it.

Kaitlyn and Greg have such beautiful spirits, and their passion for life and each other are a great reminder to us all. Thanks for sharing their story. And by the way, I voted for the “Sexy” cover and was sooooo happy when I pulled your magazine out of my mailbox and saw it had been chosen.
Teal Sherer (www.mygimpylife.com)
Los Angeles, California

Interconnectedness
I really like the article about my brother [“Jeff Shannon: Two Views of a Life,” February 2014]. I want you to know that more than one inmate came to me over the weeks [the writer counsels inmates in a prison], saying that though they didn’t know how to grieve when they lost their own family members over their years of incarceration, that they went through the grieving process with me after my brother died, in a way that helped them heal the wounds of unprocessed losses. Very profound, that Jeff became sort of a “surrogate” for them. Interconnectedness seems to be the big message here, and the power of love. Thanks so much. It is a blessing that you all have gathered to perpetuate such gifts as this out into the community you reach. I am humbled and ever so grateful.
Susan Shannon
San Anselmo, California

Alaska Cruise Advice
My wife and I travelled from our home in Australia in 2012 to do an Alaskan cruise combined with other Canadian excursions [“Cruising Alaska,” March 2014]. We cruised from Vancouver on Holland America’s Zuiderdam. Interestingly, when I did my research, Holland America was the only cruise company with accessible tenders (lifeboats) on board. So if you are planning a cruise where there may be a need for tendering from ship to shore or port, bear in mind that most ships cannot facilitate a wheelchair user for that. I have cruised on the Solstice (wonderful ship), and experienced that disappointment firsthand in New Zealand when I was forced to stay onboard at a port where the ship anchored offshore.

As an extra, we also drove the Icefields Parkway through the Rocky Mountains, and enjoyed the Rocky Mountaineer train down to Vancouver prior to the cruise, and can thoroughly recommend both as magnificent experiences in a wonderful part of the world.
John Lapworth via newmobility.com

Retirement Planning Works
I recently retired after 29 years in IT [“Imagine This,” Bully Pulpit, January 2014]. I am a C7 quad and have been for 33 years. My decision to retire was forced, to some degree, after shoulder surgery determined that I had no left rotator cuff, and continuing a career that required so much travel, site visits and uncontrollable demand on my upper body was not the best way to prolong the life of what remaining shoulder I had left.

It was odd at first. I had no idea what to do. But now, after almost two years, I’m happier than I have ever been. For over 29 years, I had been selling my time and expertise to someone else so they could use it however they saw fit. Today, my time is mine.

I had planned ahead. When I turned 24, I took fullest advantage of 401Ks, IRAs, stock matching, anything that could make some money into more money. Because, as you pointed out, we experience the effects of aging sooner, and I think not long after I was injured, it became clear that my life schedule was no longer on the same timeline as most. The premonition paid off. At 53 I’m not rich, but I am very comfortable and quite secure.

My time is mine now, and though the shoulder slows me down a bit, I’m healthy enough to really enjoy it.
Don Lively via newmobility.com

Laughter Defeats Fear
Well done, Dee Sandin [“Calling Super Wonder Cripster Woman,” February 2014]. Through comedy you have brought the fear and ignorance of people and the world of the disabled to the forefront! Now think of yourself as Super Woman in all your writings.
Els Cordell via Facebook

Gutsy Bus Blocker
Man, this guy is admirable. That took some real guts, or maybe he was really pissed off [“Wheelchair User Refused Service, Blocks Bus,” February 2014 News online]. We need more like him. That is the only way we will be heard. That is a public transportation bus!
Efren Caldera via Facebook

Bus Blocker a Jerk
Pardon me, but being disabled doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk and block buses, including traffic! I live in Canada and I don’t have a problem getting around on public transit. I have drivers who don’t mind dropping the ramp or the lift so that I can ride like everyone else everyday despite my physical situation and being a wheelchair user. You wanna be heard? Do what I did a couple years ago when nobody would listen to my complaints over the phone. I got the media involved and got a great response from the transit system. I wasn’t getting assistance with the tiedown system on the buses from various drivers who refused to help, and now they do assist every time I visit that town on my time off and ride the buses there. Get off the pity pot and be proactive … [and] don’t use your disability or situation to your advantage. It gives people a bad name when you do.
Raven Bird via Facebook

NEW MOBILITY’s 25th Anniversary Also a New Beginning
This issue begins a new era in the history of NEW MOBILITY — a celebration of our past 25 years and a newly invigorated journey into the future. Not only has the size of the magazine grown, the circulation has increased significantly since we are now the official voice of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (see new NSCIA section).

As part of our 25-year anniversary celebration, this is the first month of our ongoing survey of NM readers’ favorite covers from 1989 to the present. In our special “Legacy” section , you will find images of three NM covers from the period 1989-92. We are asking you to choose your favorite of the three covers this month.

To vote, go to: www.surveymonkey.com/s/NMcovers1

In subsequent months we will provide covers to vote on for other periods of the magazine. Later in the year, readers will vote on these semifinal winners to determine your favorite all-time cover. The winner will be announced in our December issue, the culmination of our 25-year anniversary celebration.

Also starting this month, we are asking interested readers to begin sending in their stories for consideration to be published in our December issue. Stories must be original, written in the first person, and based on the theme, “How NEW MOBILITY Impacted My Life.” Submissions should be between 500 and 1,500 words and should describe how an experience or experiences (related to NM) had a positive effect on your life. Send submissions to tgilmer@unitedspinal.org.

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