Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow Plow On a Wheelchair

If you use a wheelchair in a snowy area like Montana or Wisconsin, you will be interested in hearing that some people are putting snowplows on wheelchairs. Here is one

Actually, if you put wheelchair snowplow into youtube, you find quite a few such videos. I bet there could be an interesting market for such a product.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Las Vegas native Amy Purdy, 24, is a Freedom Innovations Amputee Advocate with many aspirations, but above all she's an actress at heart. In a rare occurrence for Hollywood motion pictures, Amy was cast as the female lead in an independent film, "What's Bugging Seth," a drama by Man of Steel Productions.Amy first got involved with this film through her prosthetist who received the casting call from O&P Edge. "They were looking for a female, below-knee amputee in her early 20's with red hair and a vintage style," she reflects. "I knew this was my chance."

I am so pleased that this production company gave the role of a disabled character to a disabled person and not an able bodied person with a double. Good on you!!! As you will see from the photo above Amy Purdy has a very appropriate name.
Read the rest of Amy's impressive story on the Whats Bugging Seth site.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The High Salaries of CEOs of The Largest Children's Charities

The Rich Keep Getting Richer, While the Poor Keep Getting Poorer

Are you aware of the salaries of the CEOs of childrens charities? As of September 2008, Jim Cook, President of Children International made an impressive combined compensation of $436'183. Cook's income overtook World Vision's Richard Stearns healthy $421'181.

Frankly, I have no problem with what these guys make if they would only be open about it. All charities are required to state their executives salaries to the IRS in a form 990, which is where I found the information. But unlike most charities, Children International does not place their form 990 on their website. Their website directs the visitor to go to GuideStar's website to find it. Guidestar, a charity watchdog, does not publicly display form 990. You have to register in order to find it. So, in order to learn Cook's salary, you really need to dig around. However, I was able to find Cook's salary from the Foundation Finder Data bank, without registering. You can too. Or you can click on the image above, which I have copied for you.

What I would REALLY like to see is charities being required to openly state the salaries of their executives on their website. Sure, some will tell you how much of your dollar is going to their projects. Many will proudly state for example "81 cents from every dollar you donate goes to this or that program." But NONE of them reveal the salaries of their executives on their websites. Why? Because their executives salaries are usually going to be many times higher than their average donor and they KNOW that if they list their salaries, many donors will be outraged.

While I do not argue that many of the charities are helping children, I do not agree that executivies should get rich doing so. I believe that charity executives should make a reasonable salary. Of course they should not live in poverty. But if they are looking for such high salaries, they should not be in the the so called "non-profit" sector. However, if they would just be open and inform their donors of what they are doing, it would be another story. If charities informed their donors of the executives' salaries and the donors want to donate anyway, by all means they should do so. But for these charities to use the impoverished plight of the children to plead for donations and fail to reveal that their CEOs are using the donations to enjoy luxurious lifestyles is, in my opinion very, very wrong.

How do they get you to donate? They make you feel a certain guilt, a certain responsibility. Their message is this: "You enjoy prosperity. You enjoy a nice life. Our children are in dire poverty PLEASE help our children. It is only $20 or $30/month. You won't miss it and it will make their lives so much better." Of course they fail to mention "Oh, by the way, our CEO will take nearly $0.5 million off of the top."

I want to see Mr Cook and Mr Stearns be honest with their donors. I want them to tell their donors how much go into their pockets, because few know it. I have done an informal survey on my article about childrens charities CEO's salaries. I have asked visitors "Did you realize that Children's Charity Execs Were Making Such High Salaries?" From 27 people surveyed, 60% reported having no idea that the charity execs were making so much money. When I began donating to Children International, I had no idea I was really helping to finance Mr Cook's lavish lifestyle. After finding out, I kept donating until my child left the program and I stopped.

If you happen to donate to any of these charities, I encourage you to forward a link or copy of this post to them. Ask why they do not reveal their executive's salary on the website. In 2004 while I was a donor, I wrote to Children International about the high salary and the rapid growth rate of Mr Cook's salary. Their response was "We feel that looking just at the salary of one individual or a handful of individuals is to miss the big picture and to get a mistaken impression. We could pay less and require less of our employees in terms of skills, experience and performance, but we feel the resulting inefficiencies would end up costing us more in the aggregate and benefiting the children less.". Why don't they post such a statement together with their executives' salary by year and let donors make an informed decision? They don't say. Children International ignored two follow-up letters from me. If any tells you, I will be pleased to post their response on this blog. But I doubt any will.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Taxi Companies Can Get Grants To Buy Wheelchair Accessible Taxis

I am amazed and delighted that Taxi companies can get grants to buy wheelchair accessible taxis.

This article describes how some taxi companies have had 80-100% of the costs of the accessible taxis paid for by the New Freedom Grants. For more information about how to apply for a grant, there is information on the Federal Transit Administration website.

What is interesting to me is that more companies are not applying for this grant money. It seems like a win-win situation. Companies get taxis paid for, wheelchair users get accessible taxis.

It would be useful to have a database of where accessible taxis are available.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wheelchair User Earns Black Belt in Karate

I love stories like this. Kelsey Schmaltz is a 19 year old girl from Fargo. Kelsey uses a wheelchair. Nothing unusual so far right?

Oh yeah, Kelsey just earned her black belt in Karate. How do you earn a black belt in Karate? Well one thing you have to do is break a bunch of boards with your hands. Ouch. That must hurt.

Great Job Kelsey Schmaltz!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Scooting for Multiple Sclerosis

A group of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers in Canterbury, UK have formed a synchronized team of mobility scooter riders. But they are doing it for a good cause. They're hoping to help raise GBP 1.5million to build new facilities for the Kent Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre:

These are some pretty cool mobility scooter riders.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wheelchair Basketball Player Earns College Scholarship

Like the author of this article about Amanda King a college basketball player who uses a wheelchair, I was not aware that wheelchair athletes were now receiving college scholarships. Obviously, they should. I simply didn't know it was happening. Very good news, indeed!

I did a quick google search and found another program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I wonder if there are alot of disabled sports scholarships? I also wonder if there is a list of schools and sports where such scholarships are available? I think it would be an important resource for young disabled students.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Interview With Magnus Berglund: Disability Ambassador for Scandic Hotels

I have blogged earlier about Magnus Berglund. Magnus is the disability ambassador for Scandic Hotels. Scandic is the only hotel I am aware of that has someone like Magnus who is responsible for developing the hotel on behalf of disabled guests. I learned about Magnus from a CNN Interview (which you can find at the bottom of this blog post) and I contacted him. Magnus has kindly agreed to do an interview with us for the blog and tell us more about what he is doing for Scandic.

GE: Magnus, thank you for agreeing to doing this interview. What do you feel is the main problem for wheelchair users in the hospitality industry and how do you hope to make a difference?

MB: The main problem for disabled guests is the industry looking at the person as someone with a disability, and not as a guest, which we at Scandic Hotels do.

GE: Why should a wheelchair user select Scandic? Why is it different than other hotels for a wheelchair user?

MB: Scandic is trying to involve disability issues in everything we do, for example, we have created a working list of 93 accessibility features for hotels to follow. 77 of these features are mandantory for every hotel. All 93 features are mandatory for renovated or new hotels. Some of these features include; hearing loops at the reception, alarm clocks for deaf people, stick holders at the reception, a guest computer that can be reached from the wheelchair. (Download Scandic's Accessibility Broschure here).

GE: How has Scandic's approach to wheelchair users changed since you have been with the hotel?

MB: The main difference is that we now have ongoing discussions with disability organization and disabled guests. For example, in a few minutes I will take a taxi and meet several different representatives of Swedish disability organizations.

GE: What should a wheelchair user do if he or she visits a Scandic hotel and finds problems related to their disability?

MB: As for every other guest, he or she should address the front desk at the hotel first. If they are not satisfied with the result, they are welcome to contact me ( Magnus' Email address is: Magnus.Berglund "AT"

GE: Do you think that all hotels should be required to meet some kind of industry-wide standards?

MB: Yes, when building new hotels.

GE: What further improvements do you hope to see over the short and mid-term? Can you tell us your vision for the future?

MB: Scandic Hotels is planning quite a few number of hotels, and this is at present my main focus. For example, we are going to build a hotel in Berlin with over 10% of the rooms disabled accessible. The new hotel will have very modern features for disabled guests.

GE: Thanks Magnus.
With millions of disabled guests around the world, I wonder if Scandic is the only hotel chain which is taking disabled travelers seriously? If anyone knows about other hotel chains and what they are doing would you please enlighten us?

I would be pleased to do similar interviews with representatives from other hotel chains to learn more about what they are doing. It would be interesting to learn more about how the hotel industry is evolving to make hotels more accessible to disabled guests.

Please leave a comment below. A hotel executive might read this one day and your comment will help them to understand why this subject is important to you.

Here is the CNN Interview with Magnus Berglund:

More Cool Wheelchairs

Another amazing wheelchair from Japan. This time from Toyota. This looks sooooo futuristic. I wonder if it will ever make it to the market. Who could afford it?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Are You Feeling A Bit Low? This Guy Will Lift Your Spirits.

Nick Vujicic is an amazing motivational speaker. He can speak to a crowd of thousands and reach out to every individual in the room. He has a very unique approach which only he can make as you will see from the video below. This is a must see!

The next time you are feeling a bit sorry for yourself watch this video then ask yourself Nic's question "Are You Going to Finish Strong?"