Sonny and Jeanette Ali and family

Sonny and Jeanette Ali and family

My Take
My wife and I left Silicon Valley and moved to Sacramento 15 years ago, well before I sustained an SCI. With all the accessibility improvements the city has made, there’s still room for improvement. Historic buildings and landmarks typically lack wheelchair access, but many of those businesses are starting to listen to the concerns of wheelchair users, and improvements are being made. To help facilitate this process, my wife, Jeanette, and I started the Sacramento Spinal Foundation. By raising awareness and advocating for positive change for wheelchair users, we believe the Sacramento Spinal Foundation can be an integral part of legislative and social improvements that will help the large population of people with SCI/D.

Skinny on the City
As the capital of California, Sacramento offers a range of exciting attractions for locals and visitors. Sacramento is known for the capitol building, but it also features bike trails, rivers, parks, performing arts, restaurants, shops in historic Old Sacramento and museums like Crocker Art Museum, Governor’s Mansion, Railroad Museum, and California Automobile Museum. Centrally located between Silicon Valley, San Francisco, the Napa vineyards, and the Sierra Mountains, there’s no shortage of things to do. Thankfully, most of Sacramento is very accessible.

Places to Go
Sacramento is America’s “farm-to-fork” capital, so eating healthy food is more than a lifestyle choice for most residents. Some of the highest rated restaurants in Northern California are located in Sacramento, and there are plenty of choices between high-end eats or casual dining for pizzas or burgers. My family loves trying new restaurants, and we’re amazed at how accessible the vast majority of restaurants are. There are a few exceptions in historic Old Town, but even there the addition of ramps has made many of the elevated wooden boardwalks accessible. During the summers, my family enjoys the River Walk, picnics at Discovery Park, shopping at the boutique stores, or watching the sunset as we’re dining at Rio City Cafe. For basketball fans, the new Golden 1 Center, which will be the home of the Sacramento Kings, is located in the heart of downtown and promises to be fully accessible.

When we want to venture out of town, beautiful Lake Tahoe is an hour east of Sacramento. With a ton of accessible options, I can enjoy water activities in the summer or learning to ski or snowboard in the winter alongside my family. An hour-and-a-half west, and we’re in downtown San Francisco, strolling through the famous Fisherman’s Wharf or dining at Pier 39.
Health Care
Since my injury less than two years ago, finding the right health care was absolutely critical. UC Davis Medical Group is the premiere hospital rehab center in the region. Shriners Northern California is located adjacent to the Davis campus and serves as the Shriners west coast hub for SCI/D. Dr. Holly Zhao, physiatrist and acupuncturist, is well known for her SCI experience, compassion, and dedication in assisting those she works with to make the most gains. For private pay SCI fitness centers, it doesn’t get any better than SCI-FIT Sacramento. The owners, Kayla Robertson and Mike Terrell, have a thorough understanding of how people with spinal cord injuries can achieve personal gains through exercise and movement.

Getting Around
For the most part, public transportation in Sacramento includes buses and light rail, and both are very accessible. What needs significant improvement is traveling across county lines. Sacramento County and Yolo County are separated by the American River. Wheelchair users residing in Yolo County do not have accessible public transit options to get into Sacramento County, even though it’s just across the river. Paratransit doesn’t cross county lines, so other forms of transportation are required. Sacramento Spinal Foundation is partnering with Yellow Cab and other local taxi companies to provide affordable solutions to allow wheelchair users to safely traverse counties for medical appointments or leisure.

Must See, Must Do
Raley Field is home to the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The stadium is one of the best in Triple-A baseball, and with beautiful views of the city, easy access and a boisterous crowd, you are sure to have a good time.

Click here to learn about the Sacramento Chapter.