On January 23rd, I had the opportunity to speak at the ATHOMES (Association for Tennessee Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment Services) convention in Nashville. The convention gathered professionals from all over Tennessee.
It was an honor to be speaking on behalf of Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization. Since becoming involved with Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, I have seen it flourish. So I enjoyed helping spread the organization’s mission.
During the day, I met many incredible professionals who work as medical equipment providers in our state.
I even met, and had a picture taken with, the Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey!
The possibilities that medical equipment providers offer to people with disabilities are exemplary. I am very grateful for the impact these services have had on my life.
–Ashley Grimes, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 First Runner Up
Speak Foundation Conference
July 26-27, 2013
What a fabulous weekend getting to know new people with a similar diagnosis.
I was invited by Kathryn Bryant, Speak Foundation Founder, to be a guest speaker during one of the sessions.
It’s still odd to me that I am a guest speaker at anything. I still think of myself as an average girl, raising a family, working, going to school, and just enjoying life.
The Speak Foundation was created as a way for other Muscular Dystrophy patients to connect with one another.
TSF (The Speak Foundation) Mission:
“The Speak Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to helping people of all ages overcome the challenges of muscular dystrophy and other physical health conditions. Our organization is full of volunteers who live daily with some of the greatest challenges and are also the most inspiring people we have ever met. We share how to overcome obstacles at our national conference each year. Because muscular dystrophy services are being reduced in many other areas, people with muscular dystrophy are in need of help and in great need of hope. There is no cure or treatment for this disease yet. Each year, TSF provides a free national conference to people who are overcoming the life challenge of muscular dystrophy or other serious physical health conditions.
In addition to our desire to connect the lives of individuals with muscular dystrophy or other health conditions, through events like our annual Speak Retreat and Conference, the Speak Foundation is a Christian organization that seeks to promote the charity and welfare of physically ill children who are poor or orphaned in our country and internationally. It is a part of the mission of the Speak Foundation to speak up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.”
This weekend’s conference is the first time some of these individuals have ever even met someone with a similar diagnosis. Everyone is in a different stage of illness (for lack of better word). It is wonderful to have an opportunity to share information about what works and doesn’t work with people who have actually been there already and experienced certain changes. Trust me when I say we do a lot of thinking outside the box to make everyday activities work for us.
My weakness has progressed much further than some, and not as much as others. There were several younger ladies who used a power chair for distance purposes only. They could still walk, just not very far. I remember those days. I almost felt like a ‘has been’ because I had already been there done that. Lol! I know that these girls still have so many more wonderful opportunities to experience. And I also know that if they have to start using the chair full-time that the wonderful opportunities don’t stop there!! I was pregnant and in my wheelchair full time. There are no limits to what you can do. You just have to be willing to do things a little differently, and different is GOOD!!
I really look forward to this being a conference I attend every year. Thanks to The Speak Foundation, I now have more friends across the country. It was a pleasure to meet everyone and I look forward to staying in touch with them until next year.
News Channel 12 was on hand to cover my airport homecoming. News reporter/anchor Erik Avanier was at the pageant in March when I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, so it was quite fitting that he was at the Chattanooga Airport to welcome me home after being Ms. Wheelchair America First Runner Up. Thanks so much to Erik and News Channel 12 for letting me know that Chattanooga cares.
Watch the coverage here. News Channel 12 Homecoming
The Chattanooga Times Free Press also had an article in the paper on Monday.
Read more here. Chattanooga Times Free Press Article
There was also an article on The Chattanoogan.com website on Monday.
Read more here. The Chattanoogan.com Article
If there are any other articles that you have seen, please let me know. I would love to add them to the list.
I hope in the next few weeks there are several more in-depth news articles and interviews. It is important for others with disabilities to see that there is WAY more to life than their disability. I want to help show the 54 million Americas with disabilities that having a disability is NOTHING to be ashamed of. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to.