August 31, 2014 |
As the photo essay opens, a 44-year-old man with a shaved head lies shirtless on his back in bed. The merciless morning light reveals two prescription drug containers on the night table, a medical alert tag around his neck, and a catheter tube snaking out from under the sheets. The man is Fred Schwartz, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994. His nearly deadweight legs and steadily weakening left arm render mundane tasks - such as getting up in the morning - a challenge.
August 17, 2014 |
After Javier Barraza fell off a roof five years ago and broke his back, there were days he wished he was dead. "But you know what? Doing sports helped," he said while watching quad rugby Friday at the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games at the Convention Center. "It brings back a lot of self-confidence. And it helps from getting depressed. " The Special Forces veteran suffered some injuries while serving, but none were as life-changing as the one he sustained as a civilian.
August 13, 2014 |
Some saw combat. Some did not. Some were wounded in war. Some were not. Yet all 650 men and women streaming into Philadelphia this week to race one another along the banks of the Schuylkill, or shoot targets, swing bats, swim, or compete for medals at rugby, table tennis, basketball, and soccer have served in the military. And - like Bruce Husted of Marlton, who was thrown from a motorcycle while on active duty in the Navy in 1978 - they all compete in wheelchairs. Their numbers promise to make the 2014 National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which begin Tuesday in Philadelphia and three South Jersey towns, the largest in the Olympic-style games' 34-year history.
June 15, 2014 |
Philadelphia could have dozens of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs by the end of the year, thanks in part to a federal court order signed Friday. The order was a compromise between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania, and was reached after a three-year court battle. The settlement is contingent on the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission's approving necessary regulations next week. In the five-page decision, U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones III states that the Parking Authority will have to issue 150 taxicab medallions in the next 10 years exclusively for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
April 25, 2014 |
James W. Staerk, 54, a longtime prosecutor for the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, died of spinal muscular atrophy on Thursday, April 17, in Bluffton, S.C. Mr. Staerk grew up in Abington, where he lived until retiring to South Carolina in January. He worked for 27 years as an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, where he led the forfeiture division and seized planes, cars, houses and other assets. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at age 4, Mr. Staerk was a quadriplegic and spent his life in a wheelchair, but "figured out how to do almost everything," said his sister Kathleen Allison-Earle.
February 10, 2014 |
SOME OF THE artwork in the basement art studio that Vicki Landers and Ray Deca run in Center City brims with the perspective of the disabled artists who created it. On one canvas, "PISS on pity" is the slogan beside the symbol of a person in a wheelchair. Another work pictures a woman sitting, head bowed, in a wheelchair, beside an image of the same woman standing, head held high, in a slinky, sexy gown. Artists Landers and Deca opened Independence EDGE Studio last weekend in the same space where the disability-advocacy group Liberty Resources has run an art studio since 2000.
January 30, 2014 |
Lauren DeBruicker knows some people look at her and see her wheelchair first. They see the metal seat as a negative, something holding her back. She's wheelchair-bound , as the cliche goes. That's ridiculous, she said. " Bound . Like I've been tied to it by pirates or something," DeBruicker scoffed during a recent interview in her office at the city law firm of Duane Morris L.L.P., where she is a partner. More than 20 years after she lost the use of her legs and some of the movement in her arms, DeBruicker, 41, has a full, rewarding life and she wants other people to know it. She'll spread that message as an ambassador for Inglis, the nonprofit that helps people with disabilities live independently while providing 24-hour care to those who desire it. "There's a perception that people with disabilities don't work, don't play, don't have any fun," she said.
January 15, 2014 |
THERE'S A SPECIAL place in hell for the people whose bureaucratic BS put Meredith Gill in the middle of busy John F. Kennedy Boulevard in a broken wheelchair. Gill, a quadriplegic, was crossing the boulevard earlier this month when her motorized wheelchair suddenly stopped. Luckily she had the green light, so she was able to lurch it back to life long enough to get to the sidewalk. By the time she got to her job at Hahnemann University Hospital, with her chair jolting to a stop every few feet, Gill was in tears.
December 31, 2013 |
For as long as she can remember, 10-year-old Melissa Shang has battled Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of muscular dystrophy. The incurable genetic disease damages nerves, causing debilitating muscle weakness and numbness - and requiring Melissa to use a wheelchair or walker to get around. When she was 7, Melissa fell in love with American Girl dolls, the pricey must-have toy of young girls from coast to coast and beyond. She cajoles her college-student sister to play dolls with her on trips home.