Let’s face it, equipment can be daunting, no matter how big or small. As a Dad that’s Raising Wheels (in my experience), you rarely get a choice in the matter because the Physical Therapist (PT) and the Assistive Technology Specialist (ATP) will determine what your child needs. I’m not complaining, they’re the experts and have been trained for a reason, to make sure your child is getting a piece of equipment that safely fits and does the job needed. However, in my past life, I was a purchasing agent and researching options is part of my nature, so I started asking around to see if there was a place where I could see the equipment before we made a decision. Unfortunately, no one in our area knew of such an event, so I began to research online and came across the All Abilities Expo, and our life was literally changed forever.
It was 2015 and our oldest son, Calan, was outgrowing his first wheelchair at the age of 7 and our youngest son, Lawson, was needing one of his own at the age of 3. Lawson had been in a loaner wheelchair since he was 2 and I was doing all I could to keep it from not falling apart. Let me just say that calling it “rickety” was putting it kindly. We had requested a wheelchair through our private insurance and had gotten a denial letter shortly after due to items on the wheelchair being not medically necessary. Certain items like tie-downs (aka transit system), a third safety handle to help push the wheelchair forward and this was the kicker, a BACK of the wheelchair! Yep, they said the back cushion chosen by our ATP was TOO cushiony and was denied. They also said the push handle wasn’t a necessity. Oh really, have they ever tried to keep a 3 year old from falling off a curb or rolling out in the street? That handle is WAY more than a necessity, it is an absolute life-saver and I’ve used it MANY times to save the boys from themselves!
We appealed to the insurance company to no avail, “there was nothing they could do.” I’m sure none of you have heard that one before. We consigned ourselves to the fact we were at least getting a wheelchair frame with basic wheels but what did that really help if it wasn’t good enough for our child?
It was right around this time I found the All Abilities Expo in Houston. We decided to make the trip from Waco, about 4 hours away. I fully expected this to be fairly small event or geared towards ATPs, but anywhere that I could see equipment options sounded like a good thing to me. And then we rolled in…..
“WOW!” is what I remember telling Melissa when we first went inside the big double doors. The hall was massive and there were so many vendors! Big names in the equipment field like Ki Mobility, Box Wheelchairs and Permobil. Modified van companies like AMS Vans and tons of other vendors I’d only dreamed of. They had racing wheelchairs, rugged outdoor wheelchairs, even wheelchair trailers. These were trailers that can be towed BY a wheelchair for those that want to play outside! And that was just the type of wheelchairs they had! “Finally!” I thought, this is EXACTLY what we had been missing in our lives as parents raising two boys who lived life on wheels. THIS is the place where I can see what is out there for the boys and even be able to make informed suggestions on equipment to our PT and ATP. And you know what? I did. Not only did they appreciate it, but it also let them know we were fully invested and gave them more tools in their tool belt for those that came behind us.
There is so much more than wheelchairs and I highly recommend you check out their website at https://www.abilities.com/expos/ to find one near you. They are continuously expanding so hopefully there will be a city near you. We’ll be back in Houston this August, maybe we’ll see you there! Here is their schedule for 2019! You just might see Raising Wheels as a future exhibitor at one near you!
February 22-24, 2019
With so much to see and do, one attendee called it Differently Abled Wonderland!
April 5-7, 2019
Abilities Expo expands north! Great News, Eh?
May 3-5, 2019
Three days. One roof. Endless opportunities.
June 21-23, 2019
Discover the latest tech, workshops, dance, sports, service animals and more!
August 2-4, 2019
Come for the products! Stay for the fun!
September 13 – 15, 2019
Cutting-edge products, education and fun to bridge the gap between ability and disability.
October 25-27, 2019
Meet new friends. Talk with experts. Fun for the whole family!
December 13-15, 2019
Even Abilities Expo is Bigger in Texas!
We created a video during one of our visits to the Abilities Expo in Houston. Check it out!
Jody Copp (Raising Wheels Dad)