I’m humbled & speechless beyond words!
I was invited by Permobil and that Permobil Foundation to Nashville, Tennessee this year to be there Key Note Speaker for their incredible Casino Night fundraiser to raise funds for wheelchair users to help them purchase components of complex rehab customized wheelchairs, full wheelchairs, smart drives, supporting disability organizations, and so much more.
For those unfamiliar, Permobil is a global corporation that manufactures customized manual and power wheelchairs (among other products such as Roho cushions and smart drives) for those of us with significant mobility impairments. In my humble opinion, they are the crème de la crème of wheelchairs and you can customize them to fit your body like a glove.
Of course, I might be biased because I have been in a Permobil wheelchair for the last 13 years since breaking my neck in 2010, but they really are beautifully designed chairs with all of their staff out to truly help wheelchairs not only survive in life, but to thrive.
I had the great honor to spend an entire week in Nashville visiting their main headquarter USA factory, meeting the team, the incredible folks behind building every single component of these customized Complex Rehab Technology chairs, and the chance to chat with hundreds of folks in the factory.
Honestly, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Some women love to purchase shoes… Well, I love to look at all customization’s that are possible on power wheelchairs as my wheelchair is quite literally my legs, which goes without saying.
I was asked to present as their Keynote Speaker at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville this year on my life journey, work with health insurance advocacy, and health equity access issues. This year was a very notable year. I work with an incredible group of individuals and organizations on the the I.T.E.M. coalition (Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid).
This coalition is comprised of over 90 doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, durable medical providers, medical companies, nonprofits, foundations, patient advocates, legislators, and more. We’ve been fighting tirelessly for the last several years to reclassify power seat elevators for power chairs as durable medical equipment (DME) with Medicare (CMS). In May 2023, CMS came out with the landmark decision in May 2023 to reclassify power seat elevation systems as DME.
What does this mean?
Tens of thousands of power wheelchair users around the country are now eligible for power seat elevators to be classified as medically necessary. In the past they were considered a luxury or convenience item. There are a host of medical reasons why seat elevators are crucial to our independence and quality of life, but to name a few:
- Raising our chair up for a level transfer onto our beds
- Reducing the risk of fall fractures
- Cooking independently in our kitchens
- Raising ourselves up to our sinks for bathroom duties
- Raising our chair up look at people at eye level, thus reducing neck articulation causing so much chronic cervical neck pain.
The list quite literally goes on. From an insurance standpoint, and many of us know the US healthcare system is deeply flawed, these power seat elevators, not only improve our quality of life, but reduce serious secondary complications leading to lengthy & costly hospital stays.
We are now in full swing of advocating for full standing systems for power wheelchairs, and while it will take some time, we will get it done!
The entire team at the Permobil Foundation put on the most elegant display of games, dinner, speeches, silent auctions, live auctions, and more. It was such an honor and pleasure to be able to meet so many incredible new folks advocating for the same cause, see old friends, and finally meet friends in person whom I had only had the pleasure of meeting virtually.
It was a keynote speech to remember and I will be having a video edited in the coming weeks, which I will share with everyone on this website! Make no mistake, this night was not about me, but about advocating for the thousands who may not be able to advocate for themselves.
I was quite speechless to be honored and the Hero of the Year Award from the Permobil Foundation. An honor I will take with me for my entire life.
A Huge Surprise
As a thank you for speaking at the event, the Permobil Foundation, designed me my own customized Quirky Quad power wheelchair. I quite literally don’t have words as they presented it to me on stage. I feel blessed beyond words because I appreciate there are so many struggling to get the right power wheelchair. I accept it in humility, deep gratitude, and will continue to fight alongside so many incredible advocates for better access to health equity for all in the disability community.
I put together this brief little video of snippets from people’s phones, but the full video, will be out shortly 🙂
I found my second family and will be working with Permobil and the Permobil Foundation in different capacities for years to come as we share the same passion, purpose, and drive to improve the quality of life for people with mobility impairments and, quite frankly, all disabilities!