The royal blue kite struggled to stay in flight; the winds remained fickle on our day at the beach. I was mesmerized while watching a man and woman so fervently trying to manage the small diving diamond in the sky. The more I watched, the clearer the metaphor to my own life and multiple sclerosis (MS) became.
Living with a chronic disease is overwhelming, time-consuming, and hard to manage, but my time on the beach was just the opposite. It was relaxing, inspiring, and lots of fun!
A reunion with my siblings (Steve and Kathy) and their spouses (Rhonda and Dennis) took me to the coast last week. When we first organized the trip, I predicted my MS would force me to watch the waves from a distance as usual. It has been quite a few years since I have been able to maneuver down to the beach.
But recently, through my friend Jennifer’s Facebook page, I learned of a beach wheelchair. The Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) at Cannon Beach, Oregon, sponsors the wheelchair. The program was a vision by a fellow primary progressive multiple sclerosis patient and HRAP coordinator, Melissa Keyser.
Melissa has worked diligently to launch this program at Cannon Beach because she feels it will be of great benefit to the disabled. She is quick to add that the program would not have been possible without the generous donations of many.
The beach wheelchair is free to use, but donations are always appreciated. You will need to have someone to push you, and the chair is not allowed in the water. If you ever get the chance, I hope you can check out Cannon Beach and this program. We also went shopping along Cannon Beach’s coast, and it is a very accessible town — handicap-friendly!
A big thank you to Melissa, as I have not felt so free or so “normal” for a long time. My toes never touched the sand. But the warmth of the sun touched my face, and at times, an angry wind blew my hair. With each rolling and soft flowing pattern that the waves created, I became more calm and relaxed. To be sharing this experience with family and other random groups of happy, active people was surreal. All were enjoying a beautiful day with the sea. And I was one of them!
I had the honor of meeting Melissa, and her compassion for others was apparent. And she is correct: The program is of great benefit. To me, it was life-changing. It has inspired me to find more “adventures” that make adaptions for the handicapped. With handicap accessibility, there is happiness and inclusion. My hope is that others with disabilities can experience many incredible days just like the one I had!
I cannot express my appreciation enough for Melissa and the beach chair program. I’m also grateful for Dennis, Rhonda, Kathy, and Steve for taking me and pushing me. Thanks to all!
Search your areas for fun, handicapped-accessible things to do. It will lift your spirits and you will be glad that you did it!
Can you recall a time when adaptations made a fun activity accessible? Share on the MS News Today forums!
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.