Sunday, November 30, 2014

Remembering Alex McDonald

Five years ago yesterday, our friend and fellow Quad Squad bowler Alex McDonald went to Heaven at the young age of 17 due to complications of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His passing was sudden and unexpected, and candidly, it's hard to believe that it's been more than five years since I have seen the sparkle in his eyes after winning top score (he especially loved beating me) at a Quad Squad outing. :-)

Alex loved life, and loved bowling. He even bowled on his high school team, both with and against able-bodied bowlers. Alex held the world record for males with muscular dystrophy for more than four years with a 213. I'm sure he would have topped that score by now, and I also know that he would have been pursuing my overall record of 255 and could have surpassed it. He was very competitive, and fun to be around.

Here is the write up from when Alex entered the 200 Club with a 201, and shortly thereafter broke it with the 213:

http://www.wheelchairbowlingrecords.com/Alex_McDonald_Enters_200_Club_with_a_201_and_213.htm

Here is his online memorial:

http://www.forevermissed.com/alex-mcdonald/#about

He was a good young man, and he is missed. But I know he's in a better place.
 
Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net
 

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Wheelchair, New Bowling Setup, Similar Results?

I recently got a new wheelchair, FINALLY, after nearly 17 years of daily use (typically about 13-14 hours per day) from my first wheelchair. My new wheelchair is a Permobil C300, which has the two foot pedals coming off of a single center post, instead of the traditional two side leg rests supporting one foot pedal each.

This requires a different mounting method for my IKAN Bowler®. Our IKAN Universal Mount works with essentially any wheelchair with two side leg rests (non-power elevating), and that's what I used for bowling in my old chair. And our IKAN Center Post Mount accommodates essentially all center-post style leg rest chairs. But for people like me who need to switch from the Universal Mount to the Center Post Mount, we sell a Conversion Kit in our online store.

The Conversion Kit turns a Universal Mount into a Center Post Mount.

The Center Post Mount can be pretty easy to set up, depending on one's chair configuration. The potentially difficult part is mounting the IKAN Mounting Brackets onto the wheelchair's utility rails, which are on each side of the chair below the seat base. Each chair is different, but the mounting brackets are designed to be mounted "permanently" onto the utility rails, with any existing accessories being mounted on top (on the outside) of the IKAN brackets, like a sandwich. For some chairs, this works well, but may require longer hex bolts/screws.

For me, I have a good friend who is a master mechanic, and he felt like we should shorten my IKAN mounting brackets and attach them to the utility rails in front of the accessories that are already mounted. He actually cut the brackets, and welded a piece of metal (I think) at the end of each bracket (to close the slots and make them strong like the original brackets, but shorter) and then attached them to the front of my utility rails.

For anyone trying to set up a Center Post Mount, I would suggest getting the opinion/help of someone who is good with mechanics for what is best in your situation. If you don't know anyone, then a trip to a local machine shop might be the best and easiest way to get set up. We have had customers who have had good experiences getting some help from local machine shop folks at reasonable costs.

As for actually bowling with a Center Post Mount IKAN Bowler® setup, I liked it a lot. Maybe it's the chair, or my positioning, but it seemed like the ball was a little bit closer to me, and I could see over it a little better than in my old chair with the Universal Mount setup.

Now, technically I am credited with co-inventing the IKAN Bowler® and I have set a pretty high standard for myself with bowling over the last 10 years or so, averaging about 155-160 per game and having 24 games of 200 or better (including the overall world record of 255).

Knowing that, I was not terribly excited about switching from a rearwheel drive wheelchair where the front turns, to a front wheel drive chair where the rear turns. Not only that, but the turning inputs with my sip-and-puff controls are literally backwards from what I have done the previous 17 years. So it's going to take some time getting adjusted and reprogramming my brain to how this chair works.

My first bowling scores in this new chair with the new bowling setup were: 118, 126, 107, and… 166! I was quite pleased with the 166 in my fourth game. Driving this chair has a different feel to it, aside from the backwards turning inputs, so I'm still getting accustomed to it, and it took me a while (three games, apparently) to adjust some of my bowling approaches and have better success. Hopefully I will not revert back to my old approaches, which are ingrained in me, and I will continue to bowl well.

NOVEMBER 1 EDIT: we had another Quad Squad Bowling outing today, my second time bowling in my new chair with the Center Post Mount IKAN Bowler® setup. My scores were a bit better: 132, 172, and then I regressed back to 130. We were a little late getting started, so I only bowled three games. Here's a picture of me on the lanes yesterday with the new stuff:

click to enlarge photo

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UPDATE: Wheelchair Access on Commercial Airlines

We are looking for a minimum of 25,000 signatures before the petition is delivered, and are currently at roughly 19,400. I am not the author, but I am Facebook friends with the author, and say "we" because I identify with the need for fair access on commercial flights and champion the cause.

Currently, all wheelchair users must transfer to a regular airline seat, and have their wheelchair stored with checked luggage. That would work fine for people who can walk a little bit and who have a relatively inexpensive manual wheelchair with basic components that are tough to damage.

But that policy is terrible for people like me who require customized power wheelchairs that cost $20,000-$50,000. Without my chair, I am basically stuck in bed. Not only does it have special features to prevent skin breakdown, but it is literally my legs, and it also carries my ventilator. I cannot risk having my chair damaged in storage, and I also cannot risk getting a pressure sore by sitting in a regular seat. Incurring a pressure sore would also require me to stay in bed, and negate whatever reason I am traveling.

But even for manual wheelchair users, the current policy adds unnecessary difficulty and risk. The below petition proposes a simple solution that is also economically sound for airlines. It's a win-win.

Signing the petition merely requires your name, email, and ZIP Code.

petitions.moveon.org/sign/wheelchair-access-on.fb50?

Thank you for your consideration.

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wheelchair Access on Commercial Airlines

Power wheelchairs often cost $20,000-$50,000. And yet to fly commercial, currently all wheelchair users must transfer into a regular seat and have their wheelchair stored with the checked luggage. Not only are we at risk for getting pressure sores by transferring to regular seats, but I know of people who have had their wheelchairs significantly damaged in storage. And it usually takes a specialist to repair them. If the chair is unusable upon reaching one's destination… then what?

That basically prohibits me and many others from flying, and it makes things unnecessarily difficult and potentially harmful for all wheelchair users.

Please consider signing the below petition to make commercial airlines wheelchair accessible. All that is required is your name, email, and ZIP Code.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/wheelchair-access-on.fb50?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=9549216

Thanks,

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vent-Dependent Quadriplegic Bowls 24th Game of 200+

Just to share some of what is possible, despite the need for a power wheelchair and mechanical ventilation, I'm sharing the scoresheet from my 24th game of 200 or better:



For anyone new to my blog, what allows me to bowl is a fancy "ramp like" device called the IKAN Bowler®, which attaches to my wheelchair. When it is attached, a caddy places the ball at the top as I instruct (because how the ball is set up determines the shape of the shot) and the rest is up to how well I drive my wheelchair and execute the shot by stopping my chair.

It's a whole lot of fun, especially bowling with friends (fellow wheelchair users, like our Quad Squad group, or able-bodied folks) or family. Technically, I am credited with co-inventing the IKAN Bowler® and for more information, click the link in my signature for our website.

If there is glory in bowling over 200 from my wheelchair, it goes to God. Thanks.
 
Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Saturday, May 31, 2014

25 Things That Surprise the Public about What People with Spinal Cord Injury Can Do

Since this blog is about empowering wheelchair users, I have to share this list of "25 Things That Surprise the Public about What People with Spinal Cord Injury Can Do" from Shepherd Center, a specialty hospital where I rehabbed in 1997.

http://news.shepherd.org/25-things-that-surprise-the-public-about-what-people-with-spinal-cord-injury-can-do/

That's "just" 25 – I'm sure we could come up with quite a bit more.
 
Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Tribute to Aaron Parker

My friend and fellow Quad Squad bowler Aaron Parker passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of April 24, after a short battle with cancer (I say short because his cancer was discovered approximately 2 weeks before his passing). He is free from paralysis for the first time since July 1, 1981 and he is now walking the streets of heaven.

First, as part of this tribute, I want to say that it is pretty amazing that Aaron lived successfully as a C7 quadriplegic for nearly 33 years. Aaron was a son, brother, husband, cousin, and friend to many, but probably the first word that he would use to describe himself is: Christian.

Aaron was one of our most regular bowlers at Quad Squad bowling. He loved bowling and the fellowship of our group. Aaron would lead us in prayer before we would begin bowling. In the prayer, Aaron would start with "Dear Heavenly Father," and, rain or shine, he would give thanks to the Lord for the beautiful day, for the members of our group (which includes volunteers) both present and absent, and especially for "Jesus and all he has done for us."

Here is the write up of Aaron's best bowling day:

http://www.wheelchairbowlingrecords.com/Aaron_Parker_209.htm

This blog is about empowering wheelchair users. Aaron would gladly tell any wheelchair user, or any person, that the most empowering thing that a person can do is to repent our sins and accept the gift of Jesus Christ. Because doing so takes the fear out of dying and ensures that we will have eternal life in heaven – without paralysis, pain, or illness of any kind.

Every time that I remember seeing Aaron, he was always positive, upbeat, and quick to smile – regardless of circumstances – all of which stemmed from his Christian faith. I am a Christian also, and if you would like to know more about the gift of Jesus and becoming a Christian, please contact me.

Aaron used to conclude his emails with "In Christ Jesus," which is how I will conclude this tribute to Aaron.

Enjoy heaven Aaron, and I will see you up there in time my friend.

In Christ Jesus,

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net