The Heart of Snellville

So I went to see about getting a sports-chair to see if it would help make playing tennis a little easier and if something like wheelchair basketball could be a possibility.


Everyone I talked to about it, from people local to Charlotte to a guy who played for the Canadian basketball team, told me that I had to go see Barry in Georgia. He’s the best in the world apparently.


So after many months of correspondence with Eagle Sports Chairs, Barry’s company, our schedules finally aligned and I had an appointment. The company is located in Snellville, GA. I had never heard of such a place, but a look at the map told me it wasn’t too terribly far from Decatur. I’d heard of Decatur. I’d been to Decatur. I’d been there both to see a doctor at the Emory Clinic and later on to stay at a brain injury rehab facility called Shepherd Pathways.


I thought this proximity to both the Shepherd Center and Emory Clinic made perfect sense. In my mind I pictured a sleek storefront with a showroom displaying various types of chairs. Maybe a workshop in back where the chairs were made. I expected Barry to be either a slightly nerdy engineer type or a cunning profit minded salesman.


As we pulled up to the address my mom and I exchanged sidelong glances. Were we in the right place? We were at a modest single level home with four or five cars parked in its driveway already. My mom looked suspicious and got out to check it out. She was greeted by a wholesome looking lady wearing an apron who said, “Are you the folks here for the one arm push tennis chair? You just need to go to that second driveway. Rhey’re all out back.”



So my mom got back in the car and we pulled around. Our suspicions were hardly alleviated because the driveway was so badly weathered and cracked. When we finally got back to meet Barry he couldn’t have been nicer or more knowledgeable. Here was a guy, known internationally, who upon seeing me turned all of his thoughts not to profit or self aggrandizement but simply to problem solving and figuring out how to get me in the most suitable chair possible at the most economical price to me. He had a crew of five or six that he kept busy in his workshop and spare parts for chairs and automobiles everywhere. The crew’s hours were logged on a large dry erase board.



I got a one arm push chair that I can use for tennis or basketball at half price. I got it cheap because he had made it for someone else about my size who decided that they didn’t like the purple color. The chair is purple, very purple, but who cares? A wheelchair is far from a fashion statement. That’s my opinion anyway.


My mom and I left Eagle Sport Chairs/Barry’s garage astounded with the man’s humility and expertise. Whatever preconceived notions we had when we pulled up to the facility were completely vanquished and replaced by respect and admiration for what he does.

How one of the disabled community’s biggest problems has been solved




This week I want to talk about something that has made a big difference in my level of independence. It’s not directly related to travel, but it could be the difference between being able to get around on your own and needing some sort of help.


About a year or so ago a friend of mine sent me article about a kid with cerebral palsy who was planning on leaving for college and wanted to live independently. The only thing keeping him from doing so was his ability to put on his shoes. He probably could’ve found some orthopedic shoes with Velcro that he was able to manage, but being 18 and probably a little insecure he wanted something that you wouldn’t find at a nursing home. So this kid took it upon himself to write letters to the president of Nike asking for help. Amazingly, the company responded in a tremendous way. They worked with this kid to design a shoe that worked for him. Now they are available through the Nike website. The shoes are not cheap, but I am able to get them on and fastened with the use of only one arm and limited mobility in one leg. The shoes provide excellent ankle support, so I am able to walk in them without any bracing. I don’t walk well enough in them to really be independent doing it, but well enough to get on a plane or into a car , which makes a huge difference.


The other day, while I was at adaptive waterskiing, I met an eighteen year old kid who is leaving for college in the fall. I think he suffered from muscular dystrophy or possibly cerebral palsy or some other neurologic disorder. When he spotted my shoes and his mom witnessed me putting them on myself they were immediately curious. I told him how great they had been for me and offered to let him try to put them on himself. It took some effort, like it did for me at first, but he was eventually able to get hem on. Hopefully they will make a difference to his independence at school next year.


The ones I wear are Nike Zoom LeBron Solider 9 Flyease. However the Flyease (zipper) technology is now available in other style. This one has the high top that works best for me. However if ankle support is not an option then other styles are available. It is the zipper technology that makes this shoe such a success for me.




alaska cruise jpg

I have received inquiries from several people regarding an Alaskan cruise for the summer of next year. I’ve done an Alaska cruise but since I was only 9 years old at the time this would be great to do again! I remember being amazed at the scenery. After doing some research I think the best option is going to be the sailing of the Celebrity Solstice out of Seattle from June 23 to June 30 next year. I was on board this ship for my cruise in Australia in 2013 and it was great. I’ve reserved rooms at the current pricing, which will likely only go up seeing as that is peak season and the itinerary, I believe, is a desirable one. This would be a great option for anyone who is a little nervous to travel because of limitations. Most of what you want to see is the natural scenery which can be viewed just as well from on board as off. Depending on who goes with us and their preferences I will arrange for private tours and excursions as needed which will allow you a great on shore experience no matter your limitations or your sense of adventure. We’ll probably fly out to Seattle a couple days early to familiarize ourselves with the city. I’ve never been to Seattle myself, but have heard nothing but good things. Please contact me at or call 7043653564 if you’re interested. Remember you can reserve now with a deposit and keep the current room rate. The deposit is refundable up until Feb. 23, 2017 but I’m sure this is one you don’t want to miss.

Mobility Missions


So the other day I was looking at my church’s website and I started browsing the mission trips, just to see what was available. It occurred to me that most, if not all, of the options were in areas that are probably hard to get to and more than likely not very accessible. My particular campus, for instance, has a partnership in rural Honduras.

This got me thinking, I’ve definitely seen other people in chairs or with walkers and such at my church. Surely some of these people have a heart to serve internationally, right? So I contacted the church just to see if they were prepared to accommodate a person with mobility limitations such as myself. Their response was very kind, but they didn’t think a person with mobility issues could be adequately accommodated on their trip to Honduras. After it became clear that Honduras was not an option, at least with their conventional arrangements, I asked if I could plan a trip that was fully accommodating. But the lady with whom I was corresponding did not have the authority to propose a new trip. That would have to come from the leaders of the church.

So I plan on presenting the church with a proposal for some type of missions trip geared towards those with mobility limitations. All will be welcome, of course, but I want to give priority to people who need our service. First I want to inquire to the readers of this blog if they have a desire to serve on a mission trip and where, if they do, would they like to go. My inclination as a travel enthusiast is to go somewhere new to me, perhaps India or Thailand or maybe the Philippines or Indonesia. I would see this as possibly in conjunction with a medical mission. We could solicit used and new adaptive equipment to provide in those unable to obtain these types of things. Also it would be fun to introduce some adaptive sports. Sometimes these little additions to make life easier or more exciting can make a huge impact on those with disabilities. I’m open to wherever there’s a need, though, so please let me know your thoughts via comment or email at

My 2 Favorite Weekend Trips from Charlotte


One of the great things about living in Charlotte is that you are within a reasonable driving distance to both wonderful beaches and scenic mountains. There is a lot to do around town here, but if you are ever feeling stir crazy it is simple and inexpensive to get out of town to a beautiful location. Whether you’re in search of a weekend getaway with that special someone or just a great place to unwind and reconnect with friends and/or family it’s all within your reach. Here are some of my favorite local day or weekend trips from the Queen City.





The charm of Asheville lies in its culture. From excellent cuisine to rowdy live music this mountain town can make for a great weekend escape. Maybe you want to spend some time in the art district, where you can tour galleries or even watch the artists at work. Or you could spend the day on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, where you can see the luxurious home built by the Vanderbilts or tour the gardens or go wine tasting at the vineyard. There is enough to occupy your whole weekend without even leaving the grounds if you choose. Accessibility in Asheville on the whole is pretty good considering it’s a mountain town. There are some smaller restaurants and shops that can be difficult and parking is a challenge for everybody, but the city has done a pretty good job of providing adequate accommodations. The art district could use some improvements to the sidewalks. The last time I was there some areas were so poorly maintained we had to take the wheelchair into the road. A number of the galleries are accessible but some aren’t. The Biltmore Estate is very accessible. Transportation is provided on the grounds between the attractions and several of the buses have wheelchair lifts. The majority of the house itself is accessible by wheelchair, and the gardens are fully accessible




If you’re a beach lover I don’t think it gets much better than Charleston. With a number of beach communities within a few minutes’ drive of this historic city you’re sure to find one that fits your style. The city itself is full of great places to eat and shop and lots of fun things to do and see. It’s a great place for families or a group of friends. Kids love Patriot’s Point with the aircraft carrier and submarines, the grandparents like the history and visiting the old houses and everyone likes the market and the great food. Accessibility in Charleston is not bad considering how old the city is. Most of the places you want to go in town are either accessible or have been retrofitted to make them as accessible as possible. Even the aircraft carrier has access for wheelchairs to the most interesting decks. There are many close beaches. Our favorite is Isle of Palms. There is an accessible beach walkway not too far from the strip mall as you are headed to Wild Dunes. There is some parking but not a lot. We like to stay at Wild Dunes Resort. The Boardwalk Inn has accessible accommodations but it’s a challenge to get to the beach. Just few changes would make all the difference. If you want to rent a house for a family gathering plan ahead if you need accessibility. Most of the houses are built up one story but you can find some for rent that have an elevator that take you from the ground level. You can also rent beach wheelchairs and they will deliver and pick up from wherever you’re staying. It isn’t cheap, though, so plan accordingly. Also due to the variability in the tides pushing the chair across the dry sand can be challenging. I would recommend the chair which has the big wheels that a reviewed a few weeks ago.  There’s something for everyone in Charleston.




My Most Memorable Meal



What is the best meal you’ve ever had? Do you remember? Can you narrow it down to one specific meal? What factors would you consider in making this distinction? Obviously the food is the first thing we think of. That part would have to be superb to be considered. The other factors I would consider would be the company and the setting. Encompassed in the company would be things like the conversation, or perhaps a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. The setting would include the physical location, the ambiance, or even the scenery.




The best meal I’ve ever eaten came at the end of my trip to Europe in 2008. It was one of the last days of a cruise that took me, several members of my family and some close friends from Rome through the Greek Isles to Istanbul and back.




The entire experience was amazing. While I may have thought the highlights of the trip were behind us, I didn’t know that our stop at Naples, Italy, had one more wonderful surprise in store for us.

We woke up early for our private guided tour of the Amalfi Coast. The van met us at the port and we climbed in, still bleary eyed and sleepy. Our guide spoke broken English but used his arms to express himself in a very European way as he spoke. We quickly learned to not ask for clarification on anything, because he was also the driver, and would take both hands from the wheel as he spoke. The scenery was beautiful, but the road was winding and was bordered on one side by a cliff and an inadequate looking guardrail. On more than one occasion he returned his hands to the wheel just in time to jerk the van back from certain doom with no acknowledgement other than a brief, “Whoops.”


We were on this road for what seemed an eternity, stopping occasionally to shop or look around the various towns cut into the steep rocky slopes that looked as though they would fall into the sea at any moment. We were all getting very hungry when we finally stopped for lunch at what seemed like the highest point, overlooking the many villages, the water and beautiful flowering plants and trees.


Our party of around 8 had the restaurant virtually to ourselves. I’m not even sure they typically open for lunch. We were seated by a window with an amazing view, and as we ordered the house wine the waiter explained that all the vegetables were grown on the accompanying farm and all the pasta was made from scratch by his mother. Everyone that worked in the restaurant was part of the family and it had been that way for years.


I don’t know that I can begin to describe how good the food was. The vegetables, yes vegetables, were so fresh they seemed to melt in your mouth. Anyone who has ever eaten with me knows this a profound statement from a man who doesn’t exactly eat a lot of veggies. The pasta was just as delicious, and we were given a sampling of all of their types of pasta, including one called Pasta di Mama that was the innovation of the matriarch. It’s been awhile and I can still remember every detail of that meal.


We have sent other groups there since and have had only glowing reviews of the experience.   The restaurant had a couple of steps down into it but that was no problem for me as the entire kitchen crew rushed out to lift my wheelchair right into the dining room and positioned me for the best view out of the window. This type of personalized experience is what I want to give to all of my clients no matter what their limitations.

Pros and Cons of Beach Wheelchairs


The most important thing to remember when using any beach wheelchair is that you are using it for your enjoyment to do something that would otherwise not be feasible. If you are worried about how you look or bothered by the stares of curious onlookers you will probably not enjoy yourself. Most people will think it’s pretty cool and be genuinely interested and maybe even inquisitive, but they will still stare at you, even if it comes from a good place. Just be prepared and don’t take notice or offense.


That said a good beach wheelchair can mean the difference between enjoying a day in the surf, sand, and sun or being left on the sidelines to watch others but not join in. I’ve used two different types of beach wheelchairs. Both did an adequate job of rolling over the sand, and I imagine that any beach chair you find will do that. However, they were both awkward to get in and out of and not particularly comfortable to sit in. One was lower to the ground and broke down so it could be transported by car. We were even able to check this one on an airplane and took it on our recent cruise to the Caribbean. The beach at St Thomas which we went to was doable. The other we rented at the beach in South Carolina and I doubt it would fit it most cars, and it sat up higher so I wasn’t able to get more than my feet wet. I’ve seen some cool ones on YouTube, but haven’t been able to try them out yet. I’m posting links to the two I have used however, if any of you have used a different type or want to comment on these two types please add a comment to the blog, email me, or send a picture. I would love to get a conversation on the pros and cons of all the different type of beach chairs so maybe working together we can encourage improvement.


It’s also time to lobby for better beach access. I usually go to the South Carolina beaches and often there is no or very inconvenient access do to the dunes and many steps approaching the beach. Give me some feedback on this as well


The very best beach access I have ever had was on a visit to Ibiza, off the coast of Spain. I didn’t have a beach wheelchair with me but they had a wonderful board walk right to the water which my regular chair was able to negotiate just fine. They also had handicapped accessible restrooms and even offered a free beach lounger to those who were in a chair!!

Panama Canal cruise

Private Excursion Order Form

It’s time finalize plans for the upcoming Panama Canal Cruise in October. If you have already booked the cruise, please review the attached PDF and let us know your preference for shore excursions. Excursions are optional, and are an additional cost, but I recommend them, highly they greatly enhance the experience. If you haven’t yet booked you still have until April 16 to get the reduced rate we secured by resaving rooms early. There are still two ocean view rooms available. Please click on the link to see the exclusive tours we have selected

Milford Sound and Melbourne


After leaving Cairns we spent a couple of days in Sydney, using the ship as our hotel. We had a guided tour of the city and met up with one of my high school friends who had moved there after college and ended up marrying an Australian guy and had recently given birth to their first child. We had a nice leisurely diner and drinks at a corner pub before making it back to the ship.


Our first stop after departing Sydney was Melbourne. Melbourne is located in a large inlet that makes a perfect natural harbor. It also makes for good sightseeing as the ship is navigating its way to the dock. Melbourne was one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited, partly because we had an outstanding guide, but also partly because it had an artsy and alternative feel.


The true highlight of the cruise came after leaving Melbourne and sailing across the South Pacific to New Zealand’s South Island. Early in the morning after arriving our ship carefully navigated the narrow and very scenic Milford Sound. The steep rock banks had been carved over thousands of years by a slowly retreating glacier. They were covered in vegetation with the occasional waterfall. At the end of the sound was the glacier itself.



Probably the coolest part of this journey was when the mountaintop called Miter’s peak emerged from the cloud cover, followed by the stunning view of the glacier. This is one of the times when having a balcony really changes your cruise. One problem is that many cruise ships have very few if any accessible rooms with a balcony. Its important that you book early. We at All Access Travel will assist you in making sure your cruise experience is what you want it to be. Contact me for any travel needs you have

Packing Prescriptions


Click here for pill box

click here for child proof pill box


Packing your prescription pills is necessary for every trip. For me, however, it is critical. If I don’t have my meds then my function seriously decreases and my entire trip could be ruined. Therefore I have worked on a system to make sure I never leave home without them (and an extra set as well).

This first suggestion seems pretty obvious but my Mom who is a physician tells me that I would be surprised at the number of people who call their office at the last minute. Make sure you have enough pills to last your entire trip. Don’t call your doctor’s office the morning you are leaving with a panic message- “I’m leaving town today and need a refill right now.” Trust me, you won’t be popular at the doctor’s office and you may not be able to get a refill. I have learned to count my pills a full week ahead of a trip. If you don’t have enough and your refill is not due you can often get a “vacation override” from the drug store. But this won’t happen if you don’t plan ahead. The drug store has to actually call your insurance company to get this approved so beware and plan.

Once you have all your meds there are several ways to transport them with you. It’s very cumbersome to carry all your med bottles so I have come up with some ideas. First you really need two sets of meds. If you are traveling with someone you should each have a set of meds. Even if you don’t have enough for two full sets for the time you are gone be sure your companion at least has a few days of everything you need. I know you aren’t planning to leave your bag on the plane but it does happen. And by the way, don’t EVER put your meds in your checked luggage. (My Mom says she has heard it all when it comes to patients out of town and out of medication.) Yes luggage does get lost, you do put down your carry on bag and forget it, some people even check their pills.

I take all my prescription labels and photocopy them on a single sheet. This is really helpful both for security and in case you end up needing to call about a refill. You can peel the labels off the bottles or just copy the extra info from the sheet/receipt you are given every time you fill your meds.

I then put one week supply of meds in a medication case. I’m giving a link to the one I use since it is very secure                                               . I then put this in a zip lock gallon bag and put it in my bookbag. (I’ll be posting more about general packing tips in the future .)   I put my copy of the labels in the bag with the pills. Then I take the bottles and make sure there is one full week longer than I plan on being away and put them in another ziplock bag. This goes in my companion’s bag. If you have those giant bottles of 3 month’s supply you have a couple of options. You can ask for a set of smaller bottles just to use for travel (be sure and label them or ask the pharmacist to label them for you), or you can set up a week’s supply for every week you are gone plus an extra and put this in your medication holder. Just be sure you have a copy of all the labels.

Hope you never leave home again without your meds. Your companion, your friends and your doctor will thank you. Remember if you have kids don’t use any pill containers that do not have safety caps. There is a 7 day pill container which is child proof.