Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Charitable Considerations: 4 Ways and Lots of Good Causes

Whether you are looking for good karma, to help your fellow man, or whatever your motivation may be, here are four ways and lots of good charitable causes to consider:

– One great way to make tax-deductible charitable donations (CharityNavigator.org)
– Three worthy individuals in need of direct help (David, Rhonda, and Peggy)
– 10 good causes you can help for free, for 1-2 min. of your time (GreaterGood.com)
– A fun, free way to learn and feed the hungry at the same time (FreeRice.com)

If you're looking to make a tax-deductible donation before this year officially ends, or in the future, CharityNavigator.org is a great way to vet the many different options and make a more informed decision.

If you want to help worthy individuals with disabilities who I know are legit, I list these three in order of urgency:

David Jayne was diagnosed with ALS about 30 years ago. He is a very smart, very accomplished man who has had quite a journey, and he is raising money on Kickstarter.com to help get his autobiography written. At the time of this writing, he already has pledges for more than $23,000 in a short timeframe – but the kicker is that he needs the project funded completely ($30,000) by late evening, January 7, 2015 or he GETS NOTHING, and will likely end up in some type of facility without the ability to finish what I believe could be a book that could cover many of his future expenses (and would be worth reading). There's a good video and more info here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/625225387/the-unexpected-journey

Rhonda Reese is a personal friend who became a quadriplegic in 1991, and I met shortly after my injury in 1997. For more than 20 years, her mom, Jackie, was her primary caregiver in a small apartment they shared, but two years ago, Rhonda lost both her parents and is now trying to avoid going to a nursing home at the age of 48. We had a successful bowl-a-thon fundraiser for her last year, and we are planning to make it an annual event to help keep her out of a nursing home (we are currently trying to decide on the location and date of the next bowl-a-thon, but it should be in March 2015). If you want to help Rhonda, you could wait for the bowl-a-thon, or you could donate on her YouCaring.com page, which has more info here:
http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-for-rhonda/37633

Peggy Overbey is also a personal friend, and she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a form of muscular dystrophy) nearly 3 decades ago. She has lost many physical abilities in that timeframe, and would love to regain some of them with a fancy robotic arm. She knows the price tag is high, and she started a loom knitting business to try to raise funds, yet could still use help. Here is her link for more information and/or to donate:
http://www.gofundme.com/ecjw04

And anyone with Internet access can help 10 good causes for just 1-2 minutes of your time. To make a really significant impact you can visit GreaterGood.com daily, and click to make a sponsor paid donation on 10 different subpages. The Greater Good family of websites has tabs/links to:

TheVeteransSite.com – help provide meals for homeless Veterans with your daily click.

TheAutismSite.com – help fund therapy for children with autism with your daily click.

TheHungerSite.com – help fight hunger with your daily click.

TheBreastCancerSite.com – click daily to help fund free mammograms.

TheDiabetesSite.com – click daily to support the fight against diabetes.

TheLiteracySite.com – click daily to help give free books for children in need.

TheAnimalRescueSite.com – click daily to help give bowls of food for rescued animals.

TheRainforestSite.com – help protect and preserve habitat with your click.

TheAlzheimersSite.com – help support the fight against Alzheimer's with your click.

The above nine links will take you to separate tabs on the GreaterGood.com website. The Greater Good tab/link on the page has a special project to fund with your click. That's 10 different causes you can help in less than one minute (if you're fast:) daily.

FreeRice.com – A fantastic way to have some FUN, LEARN, and FEED THE HUNGRY! The default "game" is multiple choice English vocabulary words, but they also have many other grade school subjects, and you can even choose the level of difficulty in certain categories. And for each correct answer, sponsors will donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme.

Thank you for your consideration in helping any of these or other good causes.

May God bless us all! On a related note, if you're interested in reading the Bible or listening to audio versions, BibleGateway.com has free reading plans (some of which start January 1 and are spread out over the year) which make reading it convenient.
  
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, 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