Addison and I traveled to Indiana and Ohio at the end of February for two weeks. This was the first time I have traveled with her by myself, and her first visit to Indiana, where I was born and raised. She did really well, and she definitely had a great time visiting with family and friends, attending my events, and living in a hotel for a while!
We flew in to Ohio where we attended Pastries with the Princesses, a fundraiser for The Dane Foundation. This is the non-profit organization with sponsors the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant every year. Addison and I had such a great time meeting all of the princesses- she was in heaven! Here are a few pictures from the event:
|All of the girls and the princesses during story time at Cinderella's castle.|
|Addison and Sleeping Beauty|
We spent the rest of our time in Ohio making appearances and building new relationships with donors and possible sponsors for the pageant. Addison loved hanging out with everyone and did very well with the busy schedule- and eating breakfast in the hotel every morning was definitely a highlight! We love staying at the Staybridge Suites in Stow, Ohio- one of the most accessible hotels I have ever stayed in. The rooms are gorgeous and the staff is incredible!
|Breakfast in our hotel room!|
|Addison's first "Build-a-Bear" experience- this store in the Summit Mall in Akron has been a very generous sponsor of the pageant.|
|Checking out the trikes at the Rubber City Harley Davidson- I'm thinking I need one in a camo paint scheme...|
The second event I spoke at was the first annual Civil Rights Symposium sponsored by the U.S. Attorney's Southern District Office. The conference was held at the Indiana State Police Museum, and I was able to meet a lot of great people making a big difference in Indiana, as well as across the country. I learned so much from the other speakers, and the event made me excited to get home and continue my work in Wyoming.
We had an amazing trip, but we also decided that two weeks is a long time to be away from our favorite guy, so we were definitely glad to get home to Russ.
|Somebody got to check out the cockpit on the plane!|
Abilities Expo- Atlanta:
In mid-March I took off for the Abilities Expo in Atlanta. These expos are held all across the country throughout the year, and they are an amazing opportunity for people with disabilities to network and learn about all of the newest information, technology, and products- it's like Candyland for people in chairs! We were at our Ms. Wheelchair USA booth for all three days of the expo, and we met a lot of great people, shared information about the pageant, and played with a bunch of awesome toys! :)
|Our booth at the expo.|
|Playing in the Trackmaster track chair.|
|Impromptu girl talk session!|
|"Walking" in the Quadriciser|
A few days after I got back from Atlanta, I was invited to speak at the annual Wyoming Outdoorsmen's Banquet here in Cody. We enjoyed a great prime rib dinner before I took the stage to talk about hunting with a disability and encouraging more women to get involved in the sport. The crowd was gracious and supportive- exactly what I can always count on from my amazing hometown! WYO is a great organization, and they have always been incredibly generous to Wyoming Disabled Hunters over the years! It was a great event, and Russ almost bought me a purple handgun during the auction that followed- maybe a birthday present this fall???
I was invited to present at the 18th annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice last weekend on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, and Russ was able to travel with me. This trip was sponsored by the student organization Abilities and Wyoming AgrAbility. We filmed an interview in the morning for the Wyoming Signatures series on Wyoming PBS, and enjoyed a meet and greet with the students in the afternoon before I spoke in the final session. Although Abilities is a newer organization, they are already having a huge impact for students with disabilities on the UW campus- I am so looking forward to hearing about their continued efforts to make a difference and impact for the disability community.
If you would like to view my presentation, you can watch the video here- just skip to 1:27:03 for my part of the session.
Last Tuesday brought another local opportunity to speak. Powell Valley Community Education and local McDonald's owner Jerry Bank sponsored a presentation at Northwest College where I was able to share my story and hopefully encourage others to maintain a positive attitude when faced with obstacles. This was a very special event for me as I was able to speak in-depth for the first time in Wyoming to a great group of family members, friends, and new friends from the community. I held a Q&A after my talk, and the group was very receptive and curious, which I love. I followed this event with an appearance at the annual Health & Safety Fair yesterday, where I was able to meet tons of awesome folks from the community.
I have a little break in my schedule before things pick up again in May. I will hopefully be at the NY/NJ Abilities Expo (see above), I will be speaking at the Shoshone Learning Center in Powell, and later in the month Russ and I will be heading down to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to provide an in-service for the Voc Rehab counselors there. I am so thankful for these continued opportunities, and I look forward to updating you all soon about these events!