Photo by Layna Hendrich of PhotographyLayn

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Blogger: Shelly Lowe

The Ms. Wheelchair USA organization has recently named several new state representatives, and a few of them have accepted my invitation to appear as a guest blogger. Shelly Lowe was crowned Ms. Wheelchair West Virginia, and I'm looking forward to meeting her at the national competition in July. I love hearing about girls that enjoy the outdoors- meet Shelly!

  • Tell us a little about yourself?

 My name is Jordan Michelle Lowe, but everyone calls me Shelly. I was born July 9, 1993. I am currently 20 years old. I am from a small town in West Virginia called Shinnston. I go to Fairmont State University where I major in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. I am a true country girl. I like to go fishing, hunting, riding down back roads and mudding. I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers, and I am the oldest. I am very optimistic and try to help as many as I can. My favorite colors are lime green and orange. 

  • Tell us about your disability?

In April 2011, when I was a Senior in high school, my boyfriend (at the time) and I were coming home from a dirt track race. It was about 1:30 in the morning, and we were both really tired. I fell asleep and was awoken by his screams telling me to hold on. He had fallen asleep, and when he woke up, he cut the wheel too sharp causing the truck to roll. I broke my neck in two places, and as a result, I suffer from a SCI (Spinal Cord Injury). I was diagnosed as being a quadriplegic.

  • What is your platform/motto in life?

My motto in life is, “The only handicap one has is themselves.” I live by this every day and try to get others to live by it as well. I don’t like being told what I can and cannot do, especially if it’s because of my disability that they say I can’t do something. We can do anything as long as we set our minds to it.

  • What are your favorite activities?

My favorite activities would include inspiring/helping others, hunting, fishing, and riding four wheelers.

  • What is something we might not know about you?

I like to sing karaoke with my friends.

  • What are your future plans?

My plans for the future include going to WVU to get my masters in Psychology, and then working with adolescents and adults with mental disorders. After that I plan on opening up my own practice to counsel people like myself who have disabilities and need someone to talk to.

  • What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome?

The biggest obstacle I had to overcome would have to be this injury and coping with all the friends I have lost and realizing they were never my true friends to begin with. I am still faced with many obstacles because of that, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It has changed my life and has made me a truly better person. God dealt me this hand of cards for a reason, and I am playing them to the best of my ability!

  • What is the best advice you would give to someone with a recent injury/diagnosis?

I would tell them that their life isn’t over. It has only just begun. They can still continue to live a normal life and do ANYTHING they set their minds too. Don’t give up! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Wheelchair & A Product Review

I used to hate my wheelchair. I think I hated what it represented- the reminder it was of my accident and paralysis. I resented having to use it, and childishly, blamed the hunk of metal itself instead of actually dealing with the emotions behind the bitterness.

That may seem like a strange way to lead in to a product review, but for a long time, I didn't like "chair flair." The bright paint, lights, accessories, etc. that adorned other wheelchairs bothered me. Why would I decorate something I despised? My chairs were black with nothing flashy, different, or exciting.

Now that I am older and so much slightly more mature, I am thankful for my wheelchair. Now, it represents my independence and the freedom I have to do anything I want, regardless of my disability. I appreciate my chair and the partner it has become in my life.

And so, when I ordered my current chair about a year ago, I branched out a little. Addison helped me pick out a few places to add purple accents, and I love how it turned out. It displays my personality without looking like I stumbled into the middle of a paintball war. It's me.

This change in attitude couldn't have come at a better time, because before Christmas, I received a tweet from a company asking if I would be interested in receiving a set of camo spoke covers. I was reluctant at first, but I decided to try them out. And I'm so very glad I did! Not only do they look great, but they protect my hands and nails from spoke damage. I get comments all the time about the covers- the camo is very popular! They are easy to install- just a few velcro straps- and you can wipe them down with a wet rag when they get dirty. I waited to review them until I had time to use them in multiple capacities, including traveling. They have held up wonderfully!

There are only two cons to these spoke covers. The first would only apply to manual wheelchairs that have wheels that are removed by a center release button. With the current model of spoke covers, the release button is covered by material. You can slide your hand between the cover and your spokes to access the button, but it takes a little getting used to. I was told that newer models would have a cut-out for the release button.

The second con is that the company that made these covers seems to have disappeared! HB Wheelie Co. is no longer a website, Facebook page, or twitter account. They were a brand new company, so unless they have changed their name, I'm afraid that they may have shut down, which stinks! They had several different sizes and patterns, including a chevron I was going to try. So if you have any information, or can find any trace of the company, please let me know so we can spread the word about these creative wheelchair accessories!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Catching Up

I knew this spring would be busy, but I had no idea what was in store. It has been a whirlwind, but in such a good way! I will break down the last few weeks by event to catch everyone up on what has been going on with the Crown & Camo tour.

Ohio/Indiana Trip:

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
Matching crowns!

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...
We headed to Indy for a few more events before heading home. Addison got to spend some quality time with family, and I got to catch up with some old friends. We visited the Indianapolis Children's Museum, which was incredible. I was very honored to have this trip sponsored by two organizations. The first was the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, where I was able to speak and tour the hospital to meet patients and their families. The staff at RHI is doing an outstanding job helping people to become more independent after an injury or diagnosis. The patients and their families were so welcoming, and we met some amazing people!

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
 The amount of technology that is available for people with disabilities had grown by leaps and bounds, but unfortunately, there was little if any of a presence for outdoor activities, specifically hunting. We are hoping to change that at the upcoming expo in the NJ/NY area by providing my "Dream Booth," which would include adaptive equipment specific to hunting. We are currently looking for sponsors for this booth, so if you or someone you know would like to be involved in sharing your adaptive equipment with thousands of consumers with disabilities, please contact me at, or by using the form at the bottom of this page!

Wyoming Outdoorsmen:

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???

Shepard Symposium:

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.

PVCE Events:

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!