I want to be honest in this. Not only so you can see what an incredible kindness that an adaptive vehicle is, but also so you can learn what disabled people go through when it comes to transportation. Rarely, do we mention that disabled people often don’t have vehicles and sometimes are trapped physically because of this. Education and knowledge is our first step to changing things. The ability to leave your home should be a fundamental right.
Since the pandemic occurred, my freedom has not been the same. Like a lot of disabled people in this world without adaptive vehicles, I relied on public transportation if I wanted to explore life in my electric chair.
If I was traveling anywhere else, I had to travel via my manual chair. Due to my NMD, I have muscle weakness. A manual chair that doesn’t fit me well anymore and weak muscles aren’t a great combination for adventures unfortunately.
As much as I appreciate it when my family and friends give me a boost, you can’t replace the feeling of pushing yourself. There’s a feeling of being in charge; of feeling independent. When you’re disabled, you have to forsake a lot of things when it comes to your independence. The few things that you can manage by yourself are important.
A fine median point for me was public transportation. I could still use my electric chair, didn’t need to worry about transferring, and could finally feel like I was fully independent in ways that I hadn’t in other ways. Granted, it didn’t solve the problem for going places outside of a local city… but it did give me immediate freedom! The first time that I hopped on the bus with my cousin, I began crying. It wasn’t hormonal. It was just joyous. Sweet freedom!
Unfortunately, the bus access in my current city is more complicated than in my last city. There are strict time limitations and restrictions on how long I can be out for example. Currently, I can’t use it due to COVID. It has been one of the many things that disabled people are going through. I use this far away lanague because my experience is not isolated. So rarely do we think that people are lacking access to leave their homes. However it’s a reality, especially for the disabled community. Lack of access exists for us in a lot of ways.
Except my story becomes kind of magical.
Amazingly a beautiful miracle happened because of my friend, Tilghman! When he and his family learned that I didn’t have an adaptive van, they GIFTED me their old van! It was incredible kindness. Tilghman, like me, is passionate about advocacy for people with disabilities. Our friendship has been such a blessing to me in so many ways.
I suppose that if two advocates connect, you’re kind of bound to create wonderful things? Maybe I’m biased, but hey!
Not only did he and his family bless me with something that makes my entire family’s life easier, but they blessed me with the ability to be free. When we talk about gifting someone a gifting an adaptive van, the gift is so much more than a vehicle. It’s a literal freedom.
It’s made my life more accessible in so many ways. I can travel to appointments easier, go out to places that aren’t accessible via a manual chair and the list goes on. I no longer require assistance when out and about. This may seem like a small victory to someone else, but it’s a huge thing to me. Really.
In the same way that I lost my physical freedom because of COVID exposure, my sweet friend gave me a sense of freedom that I haven’t experienced in years. I remember how AMAZING it felt to have freedom again when I first got my electric chair. I could suddenly go as fast as I wanted, no more needing people to push me, and no more reminders of dependence.
They say sometimes you meet people for the most unexplainable reasons. I have always believed that. I can never explain in words how much I cherish Tilghman, this gift, or how much I cried that first night. I thought a lot about this post. Would a ‘thank you’ suffice? Should I simply thank you, thank you over and over again? Except that didn’t feel honest. The reason why this gift is so special is because all of these factors are why adaptive vans are so freeing. It’s because a gift like that unshackled me. A gift like that is special.
Thankfully, I have a special friend too!
To have freedom gifted to you is an indescribable feeling. There’s no way to describe how it feels to be granted an ability to fly freely again. I haven’t felt so free in so long. I feel truly… BOUNDLESS!