Living Independently … and Living Well

When you see a person in a wheelchair, what do you think? How do you react? Do you make judgements about that person simply because they happen to be in a wheel chair. While we all would like to think we don’t see the chair when we look at the person, the truth is that wheelchair does influence the way we look at a person … and in turn, the way we look at them influences the way they may look at themselves.

That’s why tonight’s Disability Pride Dinner was so inspiring. I served as the master of ceremonies for this annual award event put on by Three Rivers Center for Independent Living. It was a first class night all the way … right down to the lobster and steak dinner. No rubber chicken for these folks.


But what really makes this dinner so different is the awardees. Some are disabled while others are not, but all are making a difference in the lives of those with physical challenges and making sure they can live life independently. In the end, that’s all the disabled want ( and yes, disabled is the right term ).

One of those advocates who cannot walk but carries the hopes and dreams of  the disabled is Madonna Long. A disabled rights advocate, she hails from Ebensburg Indiana county but has gone to the steps of Capitol Hill to plead her case for the rights of the disabled. She is more than someone who helps push legislation through, she has published  a magazine called Chloewhich is a provocative and honest look at the life of women with disabilities. From sex and relationships to fashion and other feminine topics, nothing is out of bounds. She also puts on adaptive clothing fashion shows, letting people know that a wheelchair doesn’t take away a woman’s desire to feel pretty or need to feel sexy.

It was quite an evening and the motto for the night says it all:

Dare to Change the World.

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