Universally Cool Shoes
“Universal design with fashion in mind” — this is the mission behind Billy Footwear, the world’s first shoe company to make shoes that work for everyone, including those with limited dexterity. “I didn’t want to wear shoes that screamed ‘adaptive,’” says Billy Price, a C6 quad from Seattle, Washington. This is what led him to co-found Billy Footwear, a company that is all about fashionable shoes and promoting universal design.
So far his company has designed seven stunningly cool shoes with a drop-jaw universal element that works great for quads — a zipper that wraps around the base of the shoe, allowing the wearer to place their foot in unobstructed, and then close the shoe with the pull of a zipper-pull. And Billy Footwear sells shoes for everyone — men, women and children — as well as in various styles, like high-tops, loafers and oxfords. The average price for a pair of Billy shoes is $100.
The Art of Self-Reinvention
If you are the type of person who is very physical, getting back on track after a spinal cord injury can be complicated. This was certainly the case for Joseph Barrett. Injured in high school in 1992, he was a big fan of being active. But now he was faced with a C5-6 injury.
“I’m always amazed by the way that others respond to their disability. Some people seem to hit the ground wheeling, where others need a good bit of time to adjust. I would say that it took me a good five years to come to terms with my disability,” says Barrett, from Hartford County, Maryland. “Initially, I couldn’t move my arms. Fortunately, I regained the use of them, although I used 10 to 20-pound dumbbells as opposed to 125-pound weights pre-injury.”
He admits it’s easy to get trapped into comparing one’s old abilities to one’s new abilities, but his perspective changed when he witnessed someone his level do something he wanted to do — drive. “That really hit me hard, because I knew that if he could drive, so could I. If I could drive, I could work; and, if I could work, I could probably support a family. It was just enough to give me a vision for change.”
With that fire, Barrett returned to school and graduated with a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling. Then he landed a job as a Voc Rehab counselor in Pennsylvania. Now married with a son, and with a job he loves, Barrett is in a great place. “I think everyone with a disability can be a mentor, even if you don’t realize it. People are watching how you carry yourself. I really feel obligated to help families out by using my experience.” [For more stories on the benefits of driving, see this month’s Motorvation].
Summer Camp Dreaming?
Every year a group of women with paralysis of all ages and from all around the country attend the annual Camp Discovery, held in Colorado for women with SCI. Part peer-mentoring and part adapted sport discovery-zone, this camp has changed many lives. To register for Camp Discovery 2017, visit its site: campdiscoveryco.com.