I use a power wheelchair full time. I can no longer walk, drive or do very much on my own. This year, I was honored to be asked by MDA to be its 2013 ambassador in Arizona. I was told that this would involve speaking engagements, fundraisers and interviews. I also was told that I would have advance notice of these events so that I could arrange transportation — meaning that my husband would be free and available to drive me to the event. So much for good intentions.
This winter, I got a request to speak at an MDA function on a day that my husband was not available to drive me. I emailed a friend who has helped me on previous occasions, to see if she could help out, but sadly she also was busy.
I decided not to let that slow me down. The pubic transportation system in Phoenix is not the best, and even worse in the area I live. Still, I looked up the bus schedule and found that there was a bus route that would take me directly to my destination.
All I have to do was drive my wheelchair a half mile to the bus stop, take the bus north about four miles, exit the bus, cross the main street and there I was. Reverse the action, and I could go home. I found out that the cost for a person with a disability is 85 cents in each direction. I could do this.
What I didn't count on was that it was going to be one of the coldest days of the year in Phoenix. But I bundled up, had the exact change in my hand and went out into the world.
The bus came as scheduled, and the bus driver lowered an automatic ramp for me to be able to get onto the bus. He then tied down my wheelchair and off we went. I arrived on time, and it was a fun event. I reversed the plan and took the bus home, arriving safely before my husband got home from work!
I think this experience has empowered me, giving me so much more confidence and independence.
To read more about accessible transportation, see Rolling Through Boston and Phoenix by Jake Geller.
About the Author
Originally a New Yorker, I moved to Arizona in 1988 with my husband Phil. I worked as an engineering administrator for TRW for many years. In 1999, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease, and later it was determined to be a slow-progressing form of ALS. I now use a power wheelchair full time, and I need help with many daily activities. I refuse to let it stop me. I still love to travel. This past March, I put together a group of seven people, and we took a wheelchair-accessible tour of Israel. I began to write a blog to tell some of my stories ... and vent some of my frustrations. My motto is never take NO for an answer.
Bonnie Guzelf lives in Tempe, Ariz. Check out her blog, Wheelchair-Accessible Arizona and More.