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Yannick Benjamin Welcomes You to the Axis Project


theaxisprojectEditor’s Note: When wheelchair users Yannick Benjamin, Alex Elegudin and George Gallego met, they discussed an impossible dream. They dreamed of a place where all could work out in a gym big enough, so that other people with disabilities could exercise, meet, get to know each other and participate in classes designed specifically for people with disabilities. Their dream also included having a physical therapist on staff who could design an individual program for each person who came to the gym. The gym would become more than just a workout center. It would be a place to hold job fairs and discuss issues that people with all types of disabilities had. It would provide support groups and staff to help facilitate solving problems for people with disabilities.

The Axis Project, a 7500-square-foot multidisciplinary center close to Central Park in New York City, is the fulfillment of that dream. Besides exercise classes, today the Axis Project offers an assistive technology/computer program, an advocacy desk for people with questions about employment benefits, as well as social gatherings, community meals, and other outings.  Below, Yannick shares with us how his dream became a reality.

The Axis Project Aims to Serve

4 Axis Project Yoga Class

The Axis Project is a wellness and fitness center that’s designed for people with physical disabilities. We provide services for people in New York City and the Tri State area (New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut).

We have an adaptive spin class that I lead.

We incorporate the spin class with hand spinning machines, jumping jacks, jogging in place and using 10 hand cranks. Each class lasts from 30 to 45 minutes. Our spin classes are the same type of spin classes that you see other people participating in everywhere. But instead of using their legs to spin, our students use their upper bodies. We saw a need for a program like this not only in New York City, but also in the Tri State area, and no one was filling that need.

3 Axis Project Spin Class

People with disabilities often have a hard time getting to a gym and finding a gym with equipment that’s planned specifically to help them. If they get to a gym, they may or may not know any of the gym staff who can help them develop routines designed particularly for them to strengthen their bodies. To get to that personal level, we have personal trainers who work with each person to create individual workouts for him/her.

Our trainers also help the people who come to our gym get onto and off the various types of equipment that we have available.

We’ve also found that people like us who have disabilities enjoy participating in classes and getting to know other people with disabilities similar to theirs. So, our gym offers adaptive yoga, adaptive martial arts and adaptive boxing.

See all the Axis Project Has to Offer Here:

How the Axis Project Started

8 Axis Project CofoundersAlex Elegudin, the president of Wheeling Forward, a nonprofit organization, always wanted to develop a place here in New York City where people with disabilities could come together, either in a recreation center type of setting and/or a gym kind of setting, and work out with their peers.

I was the co-founder of Wheeling Forward with Alex. Together, we did a lot of fundraising to help raise the money to build and maintain the Axis Project.

We wanted to create a place where a multitude of services could be provided for people with disabilities here in the New York City metro area.

axis project boxing

Alex is a quadriplegic, I’m a paraplegic, and the third founder of Wheeling11 NYC Marathon 2015 Forward, George Gallego, is a paraplegic.

George is a tri-athlete, who felt that an intricate part of Wheeling Forward, the Axis Project, should provide a place where people with disabilities could exercise and also train for wheelchair sports. George is a very strong believer that people with disabilities can have better lives by exercising and keeping their bodies in shape.

So, the three of us, all having various types of paralysis, wanted to have a place where we could exercise, and where others with disabilities like ours could exercise and train, get peer support and attend classes and workshops expressly planned to meet their needs. We were willing to be the wheels on the ground to do the fundraising to make this big dream come true.

After two years of fundraising, we decided to try and find a place to open up this gym and recreation center where all people like us and with disabilities different from us could come together and get what they needed.

axis project trainer

How the Axis Project Works

We have a partnership with a managed care group called ICS (Independence Care System), one of the largest managed care groups for people with disabilities in New York City. They help us spread the word about the Axis Project throughout the community with disabilities.

Right now, the Axis Project is serving about 700 people with disabilities each month.

Remember that people with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States and the largest minority group in New York. New York City has a population of 10 million people, including people with all types of disabilities.

axis-project-header2

Although we’re serving 700 people, we feel that we should be serving many more. We serve people with Parkinson’s disease, individuals who are blind and/or deaf, people with spinal cord injuries and amputees to name a few. We decided early on that we didn’t want to service just one segment of the community with disabilities.

axis project workoutOur goal always was to serve everyone with each type of disability and to help improve their quality of life.

We have one of the best physical therapists in New York City, Lawrence Harding, working with us. He’s extremely talented in working with people with spinal cord injuries, and he’s one of the most creative and innovative individuals I’ve ever met. We feel really fortunate to have him as a part of the Axis Project.

Three different types of people come to the Axis Project:

  1. Some individuals know the types of exercises they want to do, and they come in and work out on their own.
  2. Other people want one of our personal trainers to help them develop their routines to accomplish what they want to achieve.
  3. The third group of people wants to participate in some of the exercise classes that we offer.

We’ve only had the Axis Project’s doors open for 1-1/2 years, and we feel really blessed to have grown to around 700 participants. We’ve only been able to do this because of the support we’ve received from the people of New York City and the Tri State area.

I work in the wine industry, and one of our big fundraisers is our wine tasting events. We have one really big wine tasting event in April, but we usually have one wine tasting each month to help raise money.

Our biggest event is called Wine on Wheels. This past April, we had more than 500 people who came and participated. We also hold a silent auction at this April event that’s another of our biggest fundraisers.

the axis project programs

axis workout 2We’re on social media too and do promotions through the community of people with disabilities to let them know that if they want to improve their quality of life, the Axis Project is a place they can come and participate in programs and exercise with other people like them.

Each person usually comes two to three times per week, and generally two to three staff people work each shift. We’re open Mondays through Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 pm, and Wednesdays and Fridays until 9:00 pm. Besides our hand crank machines, we have about seven, standing frame machines and many other machines. We also have CrossFit classes, and they’ve been very successful.

What Happens Next with the Axis Project: Employment Options + More

Our bigger dream is to have an Axis Project in every major population area where there’s a high concentration of people with disabilities.

We also have parties and different types of gatherings at our facility. For instance, we’re having a job fair this year where people can come and meet people who are hiring individuals with disabilities. We have a men’s peer group and a women’s peer group that meets at our facility.

We do seminars on sexuality and other problems that people with disabilities are interested in and also provide financial advisors to come in to teach our people how to make money and how to save money.

13 Yannick 4Keep in mind that Alex, George and I all have full-time jobs. That’s why the topic of employment opportunities for people with disabilities is important to us.

Our first job fair that comes up in September is our attempt to stimulate the job market for people with disabilities and aid our people in finding meaningful, satisfying and rewarding jobs.

One of the biggest problems we’ve identified that people with disabilities often have is an inability to find work.

George, Alex and I have some connections with quite a few large companies. Some of them are Fortune 500 companies that we feel would benefit by meeting, getting to know and possibly employing people with disabilities. We’re also trying to advocate with people in the hospitality industry who have employment needs to consider hiring people with disabilities to fill those needs.

The Axis Project is not just a program and a gym that we’ve started. It’s a dynamic, ever evolving entity that we’re working hard to grow, improve and make better to serve all people with disabilities.

We want to meet as many needs and solve as many problems as we can for those individuals with disabilities. The day the Axis Project stops evolving, improving and becoming better is the day I think we need to close our doors. So, the Axis Project is far more than just a gym. We hope to be able to open up more Axis Project facilities here in New York City and many other states in the future.

Yannick works in the hospitality industry, and is also trying to advocate with people in his field who have employment needs, encouraging them to consider hiring people with disabilities to fill those needs.

To learn more about the Axis Project, you can to go our website www.wheelingforward.org and the Axis Project page on Facebook. All the phone numbers and information about who we are and what we do will be on that page too along with pictures and videos of our events.

About the Author:

John-E_-PhillipsFor the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at www.johninthewild.com.

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The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant: A Life-Changing Experience

As the Ms. Wheelchair California Leadership Institute, formerly known ...

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Comfort Conversations: Support Systems Are Key After a Life-Altering Tragedy

Having key support systems after a life-altering injury is crucial. ...

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Sheri Melander-Smith on Living Your Best Life

Editor’s Note:  Sheri Melander-Smith was born with a vascular ...

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5 Extreme Activities to Add to Your Bucket List

Have you already tried all of the typical adaptive sports available ...

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Reflections and Lessons Learned in 2017

We hope your 2017 was as enlightening and empowering as ours was here ...

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Living with MS: One Family’s Solution to Enjoying Life Events Again

Dave was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and for the first ...

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4 Tips to Help Teach Your Child About Self-Catheterization

At a certain age, kids will be the first to tell you that they want ...

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Winter Weather Preparedness Tips for Wheelchair Users

Are you dreading this winter season? Dealing with slushy, icy, snowy, ...

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Making Adaptive Climbing More Accessible with Arthur Torrey

Editor’s Note: When a tree-cutting accident in 2010 led to broken ...

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Barbara Cramer – 75 Years of Defying Stereotypes

Editor’s Note:  An earlier version of this post may have left the ...

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Serving the Spina Bifida Community with the SBAGNE

I serve as the executive director of the SBAGNE. One of my primary ...

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Comfort Medical is Helping People to Achieve a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

If you’re an avid Wheel:Life reader, you may remember that we ...

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Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship at the Center for ...

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Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

Editor’s Note: A botched hernia operation during infancy left James ...

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Comfort Medical Sponsors Freedom Concepts to Help You Win An Adaptive Bike

Have you always dreamt of gliding down the street with the wind in ...

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Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

Days are becoming shorter, nights longer, and the holiday season is ...

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ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

Editor’s Note:  When wheelchair user Tony Jackson’s original ...

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Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra® Coude ...

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Get Ready for Rolling With Me’s Each By Name Conference

Wheel:Life, Comfort Medical, and Rolling With Me is excited to ...

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Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

Editor’s Note:  A Texas coast native, David Gaston has been in and ...

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Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

Summer is officially over and dreary winter weather is on its way. ...

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Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

When life-long dancer Beverly Weurding was diagnosed with limb-girdle ...

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Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

Editor’s Note: Justin Malaise grew up in small-town Wisconsin as a ...

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Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community

Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a ...

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Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

Editor’s Note: Sebastien Archambeaud has always loved traveling, so ...

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Made for Kids! The Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter + Free Backpack Program

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them ...

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Wheeling, Driving, Bowling, Preaching, Parenting…Johnny Hudson Does It All Hands-free!

Editor’s Note: Johnny Hudson was born in 1977 with unforeseen ...

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
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The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

Boston awaits with open arms. This September 8–10, head over to the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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WheelchairTravel.org: Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

Editor’s Note: After sustaining severe burns during a car accident ...

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The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: The Artfully Gifted Foundation (a non-profit) was ...

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How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

Editor’s Note: When triple degree holder Jose Gonzalez returned ...

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Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

Editor’s Note: Peter Arballo was born in Southern California to ...

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Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

Editor’s Note: Michael Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, started racing ...

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The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

Editor’s Note: Monica Vickers was born in 1954 missing both legs ...

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Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

When Rick Hayden visited the US Capitol last week, he went with your ...

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Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

Calling all Midwesterners — Abilities Expo is coming to Chicago! As ...

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Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

Editor’s Note: Clayton Frech is the CEO and founder of Los ...

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Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

Editor’s Note: Sled hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is almost ...

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL
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Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

Editor’s Note: Mary Marshall, founder of STYLEDWEL, created ...

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Following Your Inner Guidance with Kristina Rhoades and How National Ramp is Helping Her Do It

Editor’s Note: Kristina Rhoades is a mom, wife, speaker, writer, ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

My name is Allen Beauchamp, and I’m 43 years old. I live in a ...

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Yoocan Get Empowered!

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe ...

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Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra™ Intermittent ...

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Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

East coasters, or anyone within striking distance, gear up for ...

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Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

Editor’s note: Paul Brailer, aka Criptaedo, was born with spina ...

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Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

I’m currently 63 years old and live in Durham, North Carolina. ...

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Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

Editor’s Note: At 18 years old, Mallory Weggemann walked into the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Your New Normal After a Spinal Cord Injury

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

Editor’s note:  Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with ...

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Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

Editor’s Note: After selling his prior business, Garth Walker went ...

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The National Sports Center for the Disabled: Finding Self-Confidence through Personal Challenge

Editor’s Note: The National Sports Center for the Disabled, founded ...

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Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

Editor’s Note: Based in England, Susie Twydell, an avid traveler ...

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Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

Wheel:Life is thrilled to announce their newest community partner, ...

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Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a ...

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Comfort Conversations: Events, Free Packs, and More with James “Woody” Beckham

Editor’s Note: The Woody Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ...

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Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence: An Extra Long Cure Catheter

Jenn Sexton was five weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Thomas, ...

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Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

Editors note: As a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Glen ...

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Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

The Abilities Expo is back in Los Angeles and gearing up to show you ...

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Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: Juan Betancourt is on a path to change the world for ...

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AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

Editor’s note: Kerstin Beise, a German physiotherapist, who also ...

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A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

Editor’s note: Hydred Makabali, born and raised in England and now ...

Up/Down Team Champions (Top L to R) Shane Hayden, Harold Collins (Seated L to R) Gary Bowling, Kenneth Hill, and Don Law
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Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kenneth Hill from Plainfield, ...

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Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six-year-old Denise Horn of Janesville, ...

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Ashley Hutson Wilson Beat a Small Chance of Survival to Live a Full Life

Editor’s Note: Thirty-one year old Ashley Hutson Wilson from Kyle, ...

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Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

Editor’s Note: Mel Bergman of Camarillo, California, is the ...

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Gary “Tiger” Balletto: Champion Prize Fighter Who Rolls with the Punches

Editor’s Note: You can capture a ferocious wild tiger and put him ...

9 Robby Heisner
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Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

Editor’s Note: Robby Heisner of Smyrna, Georgia ...

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The National Rifle Association’s Adaptive Shooting Program with Dr. Joseph Logar

Dr. Joseph Logar Editor’s Note: Dr. Joseph Logar has his doctorate ...

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The Rollettes Take On an E.P.I.C. Project to Empower Others

Editor’s Note: Chances are, you’ve seen these ladies ...

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Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

Your window is narrowing to preserve access to mobility equipment – ...

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Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

Our friends at GRIT, the makers of the revolutionary Freedom Chair, ...

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Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

Editor’s Note: Serving our country as a military service member is ...

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Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ...

5 Tom Cannalonga
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Ditch Your Chair to Sit-Ski the Slopes with Tom Cannalonga 

Editor’s Note: Fifty-two-year-old Tom Cannalonga lives in Edison, ...

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Welcome to Wheel:Life

We are so glad you’re here! Wheel:Life is a global initiative ...

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