Monday, June 22, 2009

Service Dog Survey

Service dog users, we need your help!

Access Anything is working with the Open Doors Organization and the
FAA to help every airport in the country establish doggie relief
areas both at baggage claim and in-terminal for larger and hub

We're excited for this project, and need your help with as many
statistics as we can get!

For members who travel with service dogs, if you have a moment to
answer our survey, we'd be obliged.

This is a safe link through GoogleDocs, please take the time to
click on it if you can.

Thanks so much!!
Access Anything

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Day 4 Part 2 - No Barriers USA - Deep Sea Fishing

Four activities and excursions were held today at the No Barriers USA Festival in Miami, FL... toned down a bit from the previous two days of jam-packed action (check out our previous posts!). Some went to the lighthouse, some went horseback riding, some stayed and sailed, and we went out deep sea fishing.

The buses took about 30 of us to the Miami docks around 8:30 this morning for some deep sea fishing with some wonderful volunteers and avid fisherman with one goal in mind, to catch some big ones. We managed just that.

We motored out a couple of miles and dropped lines into a pod of little fish they scanned for some bait. Then pulled up, rode out a few more miles, and dropped about twenty lines for some big fish.

Immediately Chanda Hinton's crew caught a whopper of a kingfish and as she reeled it in they speared it and tossed it into the tank.
A while went by before we caught another, but pretty soon they were reeling in tuna, jack, and dolphinfish.
But it was Eric Weihenmayer's crew that brought in the winner. Daughter Emma's line caught a cobia the size of her, and the crew warned us of its ferocity backing us away from the rails. As she reeled it in, a crew member speared it and shoved it in the tank in one swift movement, telling a story of the time he put one in and closed the lid, only to turn around to the lid flying off - the cobia's strong tail had slapped the lid right off the hinges.

All in all a fabulous morning, with calm seas, a little cloud coverage early morning, bright sun midday, and getting in about an hour before the afternoon's torrential storms arrived.

Sure, we're sad this event is over, but we've had a blast, and we're plenty tired enough not to take another day of this action, that's for certain! It was great seeing everyone again or for the first time, companies and individuals alike with the same goal in mind for adventure and barrier-free fun. There's talk already of an NBUSA 2011, Chicago? Aspen? Where will it be... you know we're gunning for Steamboat, but we'll see!

We can't wait to share some of the wonderful companies and stories we met, to come in our next issue of The Traveler!

Day 4 No Barriers USA - Deep Sea Fishing

We rolled outa the docks about 45 minutes ago for some fishing! Fortunately the skies are partly cloudy, the sea is calm, and we're surrounded by our odds are good!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Day 3 - No Barriers USA, Miami FL

Day three at this amazing festival in Coconut Grove was a clear skied, warm, agreeable day, unlike yesterday's torrential downpour.
But exhaustion has set in. I don't know how the volunteers at Shake A Leg do it... they're still smiling and helpful, with no signs of fatigue after two solid days of activities. We've logged some serious hours behind the lens already and I'm starting to eye these wheelchairs with envy. By the time I sat down today it was 7pm and I wasn't sure I could get back up. Thankfully it's 9:30 now and I'm in bed as I type. Life is good.

Let's see, where to start? Another symposium kicked off today with robotics, statistics, and a discussion of the baby boomer population's takeover in 2012, ironically the end of the Mayan calendar. The robotics were the interesting part, as Dr. Hugh Herr showed us his bionic ankle and foot that is fully integrated with with his smart phone. Apple, if you're listening, you should seriously pick up your iPhone. SuperHerr has been calling.
From there we hit the docks once again for more sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, paddleboarding, open water swimming, outrigger canoeing, yoga, tai chi, and some climbing on the wall.

Late in the day as the sun beat down on us and we needed shade, Craig and three others took lead from Darol Kubacz, who summited Mt. Kilimanjaro on his one-off handcycle (pic), and hit the flooded mangrove (I meant torrential when I said it!) for some "muddin.'" Splashing abound, they raced through the 12" puddle like 10 year olds; reaffirming Craig's ache to get one of his own. Hell, I'd love one. For someone unstable on a mountain bike, this machine (oh and it is a machine, with a motorcycle wheel on the back end, disc brake and all) is a serious crawler, any obstacle is defeatable, it's the Superman of handcycles.

We finished off the day with dinner and a movie - with a very well done Sesame Street opener about coping with a military injury in your family, "Coming Home." The movie was Eric Weihenayer's Blindsight about his incredible summit on Everest with six other blind Tibetan teenagers.

Tomorrow there are four excursions - to the beach and lighthouse, more sailing, horseback riding, and our choice - deep sea fishing. (...three hour tour....) And we're here till Monday. The fun isn't over people... stay tuned.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Day 2 - No Barriers USA Festival, Miami FL

Wow. Where do I begin. We're only on day 2 of 4 at this fabulous event here in Coconut Grove, and I'm already speechless. As if the day, packed full of adventure and tumultuous weather, weren't enough to render someone in awe, but tonight's speakers put the fork in me. And I have two more days to go.

We started out the morning with the technology symposium, learning about some of the most amazing medical advancements for the blind, from a tongue stimulator that stimulates a new visual pathway (yes, you didn't read that wrong) to IRIS (Intelligent Retinal Implant System) that restores visual perception. The symposium finished with new discoveries in treating spinal cord injury here at the Miami Project; as if we weren't already confident Craig would walk again, I now see the future is nearer than we think.

After lunch we headed over to Shake-A-Leg Miami's docks for an afternoon of adventure. Craig settled into the outrigger canoeing team (recruiting for the 2016 Olympics). Adapted by actually removing the outriggers off two boats and strapping them together, the system not only creates better balance for the adaptive rowers, but it also gives more room for twice the bodies, and thus, twice the speed. The media boat trailed them pathetically and I got to watch those 10 men and women shout "HUT, HO!" to the tune of fast strokes through a very choppy bay with the acuracy of Hawaiians, despite having met each other just 45 minutes before. As they came in I heard one of the ShakeALeg vols say, "I've NEVER seen an outrigger go that fast!" Inspiring? Yea.

They've got sports stacked upon each other every day so the pickin's are actually thick, not thin, and we won't have the chance to see or do it all. I managed to snap the water sports today though while watching the outrigger canoe, kayaking, both single and tandem, and plenty of sailing (including a female quadriplegic and a world class olympian teamed up, with her steering and swinging around the boat on a mobile chair while he tacked and jibbed... or whatever!). What we missed? Stand up paddleboarding, blind sailing, and adaptive swimming.
We got to hang out with Molly the pony, whom we mentioned in our previous post, watch adaptiave yoga, and check out the equipment in the Coast Guards hangar- Solorider golf cart, a powerchair-adapted land rover, and a trike that is beefier than anything you'd see on American Chopper. Woah.

Then there were tonight's speeches. We started with Jesse Billauer's story, truly an inspiring one made even more so by hearing it live- we've known Jesse for some time and Craig interviewed Jesse for the I Can Do That motivational series in 2006. I edited the interview, so I knew his story. But hearing him tell it live, from his near-paralysis experience prior to the actual paralysis, to his brother's guilt and grief, and all the jokes and tears in between was truly inspiring. But not the end.

No, the real tears came when Craig and Kelly Pearson got up to tell one ridiculously amazing story of triumph and success. In 1995, after 3 years of worry, medical visits, and waiting, she received a donor heart, and then climbed every nearly mountain on the planet with it. From Mt Whitney to Kilimanjaro to El Capitan, they racked up miles quick on her second act in life. But it was Mt Fuji that was the inspiring one. Craig received a phone call from Kelly's donor's daughter right before the trip- Kelly had already left- and asked Craig to not only take a wish up there with him for Kelly for her mom, but to also take her mom's ashes. Because of Kelly's triumphant story, and because part of the Pearson's mission was awareness, the Japanese media went along for the ride. To protect Kelly from the burdon, Craig didn't tell her of the daughter's wish nor the box of ashes until she summited (in case of failure) but when he did the tears streamed down and the media snapped it all. Thanks to them, Japan is now doing heart-transplant procedures.

This is a very small taste of what this No Barriers event is all about. Inspiring people with stories of triumph over adversity and physical tests, sharing their love of each sport and each adventure with each and every one of us.

I have no more words but thanks.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Day 1- No Barriers USA

We arrived a day later than expected thanks to the storm that swept across the country yesterday (reminding me as always that Mother Nature is the boss!) and got into Miami this afternoon via American Airlines (wonderful treatment I might add, chair on board and all) welcomed by sunny skies and sweltering temps to this Colorado crew whose blood has thickened to mud to keep us warm in the winter months. Despite having spent annual family vacations and 4 years of college in the Sunshine State, it never fails to surprise me that my body can no longer function well in this heat. Welcome to June in Florida. Thankfully we'll be spending little time on land during our four days with No Barriers, and we're ecstatic to be reporting live from this event.

As mentioned in our previous post, the sporting opportunities here are endless both on land and on the water. We're excited to see windsurfing, outrigger canoeing, blind sailing, and standup paddleboarding just to name a few. Even Molly the Pony is here- a friend sent us an email months ago about this 19 year old gray horse, rescued during Hurricane Katrina and an amputee herself. A three-legged horse? Nope, Molly has her own prosthetic, but apparently if she gets ornery she kicks it off. LOL!

Gee, if you're in Florida and you aren't here, make the trek; this event is shaping up to be the best in the US!

We saw faces we haven't seen in years as well as some we see all the time; Kevin Carr and his wonderful adaptive canoe-backrest that we saw four years ago at Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake, no arm John and Kili Kubacz whom we met at NB in 2007 in Tahoe, our close friend Joel Berman from Adaptive Adventures, and even took our flight next to Freedom Rider Ackerman, of all the seats he could have taken. For you locals, we even met John Beauregard, an old Steamboater! It just reminds me that this world is small, and our adaptive world is even smaller.
Tonight's keynote speaker, Aimee Mullins, double BK amputee since a very young age, kicked off the event with a wonderfully inspiring talk full of stories that got us laughing (such as emulating the Rockettes in the streets of NYC so great that one of her prosthetic legs went flying down the sidewalk!), nodding, and thinking... thinking about challenging ourselves and raising the bar for success. Only eluding to the adventures this weekend has in store for us.

Don't forget to catch our live Podcast tomorrow at 5:30pm EST (call in to 646 378 1419), and to check in with this blog nightly for updates on this fabulous event!

Opening Ceremony Wheelchair Dancing with Steamboat's own John Beauregard!