The New Stuff


The Abilities Expo: Connecting the Community, One Stop at a Time

abilities expoHave you been to the Abilities Expo? Here’s where you should go, and why, to connect with friends who have similar interests nationwide! Abilities Expo CEO David Korse shares highlights from the roadshow below:

The Abilities Expo is a series of events held across the United States specifically for individuals with disabilities. Eighty percent of the attendees are consumers, and 40 percent of that 80 percent are people who define themselves as having some type of physical challenge. The other 40 percent generally are family members and/or caregivers. Twenty percent of the people at the show will be healthcare professionals with the largest group being physical therapists and occupational therapists, who discuss services they can recommend to their clients. The Expo also features manufacturers and dealers with some of the latest and most innovative products to show our consumers what’s available to help them be more mobile.  The next stop for the Abilities Expo is May 1-3 in the NYC Metro area.


Here are just a few benefits that the Abilities Expo provides:

  • You can’t beat the price, because admission is free.
  • Workshops are offered at the Expo on a variety of topics, which are also free of charge.

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.

  • An Events Arena features events such as service animal demonstrations and disabled dance demonstrations as well as other interactive experiences that people never may have seen previously.
  • The people attending the Expo share common interests.

  • This gathering is probably the largest one for people with a wide variety of disabilities and has hundreds of vendors with products and services.

  • Numerous non-profit organizations, including Wheel:Life, are also at the Expo to share information about subjects that can make life easier and better for attendees and improve their quality of life.

  • Six Expos will be held in 2015:

    1. Los Angeles (March 6th–8th),
    2. New York Metro (May 1st-3rd),
    3. Chicago (June 12th-14th),
    4. Houston (July 31st-August 2nd),
    5. Boston (September 18th-20th) and
    6. DC Metro (December 4th-6th).


    • Each Expo lasts for 3 days, opening on Friday and closing on Sunday, from 11:00 am–5:00 pm (4:00 pm on Sunday).

    The manufacturers come to these Expos because there’s no other type of event that will deliver as many individuals in the disabled community and home health care professionals, as the Abilities Expos do. The Expo gives manufacturers the opportunity to let the consumers see, touch and try out their services and products.

    • All the shows have an artists’ market, where artists with disabilities can show and sell their artwork.
  • Each show has a wheelchair repair unit.

  • Every Expo has roller scooters for people to use who need help moving through the show.

  • Most shows have an assisted technology showcase where consumers can see the latest and the greatest assisted technology devices.

  • The Abilities Expos are fun places to be, and offer memories that last a lifetime.

  • One of my favorite memories occurred at our Los Angeles event several years ago. A single mother who was about 28 years old came to the show with her son, Alexander, who was about 5 years old and had cerebral Palsy.

    The Abilities Expo - 2Alexander’s mother was accompanied by her brother, because her husband had left her when he learned he had a son with cerebral palsy. They were walking by an exhibitor’s booth which displayed a standing chair that allowed people in wheelchairs to stand up. The man in the booth asked the mother if she would like to let her son try out the chair. The lady answered, “Sure,” and they put Alexander in the chair. He took off like a racehorse – the first time he’d ever been able to stand.

    He was having such a good time, that everyone there started watching Alexander. They realized there was no way that this single mom could afford to pay for this $5,000 chair. The exhibitors in the next booth went over to the manufacturer of the chair and asked how much the chair would cost and if the company would take a credit card. The lady at the wheelchair booth had a big smile on her face and asked, “What do you mean?” The man holding the credit card said, “That youngster can’t go home without that chair.” The lady then told him, “If you’re going to buy that chair for Alexander, I’ll sell it to you for $3,500.”

    The Abilities Expo - 5So, while Alexander was riding around at the show, the chair already had been paid for by two of the Expo’s vendors, and it was gifted to Alexander and his mother. The mother broke out into tears, and Alexander, seeing his mother crying but not knowing why, cried also with gladness from this unexpected gift.

    Fast forward 5 years later, and Alexander and his mom who had come to the show every year, called me over into a corner at the show last year. The mom said, “Alexander has something he wants to show you. Close your eyes for a second.” When I opened my eyes, Alexander was standing, and he took a couple of steps toward me. The Abilities Expos have lots of moments that are unforgettable due to the people who come to our show, but for me, Alexander and his chair was one of the most memorable.

    Attend Workshops Free of Charge at the Abilities Expo 

    Our goal for our workshops is to connect the attendees who come to our shows to the practical and useful information they need. We try and give our attendees the newest information as it’s made available, including research being performed on stem cells and the latest information on research being done that may help people with spinal cord injuries walk again, and also hold workshops with their primary goals of having fun.

    SEAS introduces the concept of adaptive rowing to Abilities Expo attendees.

    SEAS introduces the concept of adaptive rowing to Abilities Expo attendees.

    Travel Is Our Number One Workshop:

    The first thing we teach in this workshop is that you can travel, even if you have a disability. Many people don’t realize how accommodating travel can be, like cruise ships, airlines and other means of transportation. Many people come to these workshops to learn how they can travel. We explain that people with disabilities can travel just like able-bodied folks can.

    We have experts who come to these workshops and explain where you can go, how you can travel, and what type of advanced preparations you need to plan on to take a trip. We want to motivate people to travel and show them ways to travel that are affordable to go to places they’d like to go.

    Service Animals:

    Although having an assist animal is practical, assisted animals can be fun too. Many people know about service dogs, but we also show service puppies and miniature horses, which now have been approved as service animals. Miniature horses can perform a variety of assisted tasks to help people be more independent.


    For people who are quadriplegic or significantly disabled, monkeys can be trained to help perform many of the tasks in the home. They can help people get dressed, turn lights on and off, operate the remote control for the television, help people eat and drink and perform many other tasks. The fun side of the monkeys and all these service animals, is that they are great companions. They can be funny and provide love.

    Service animals have been proven to increase social interaction for people with disabilities also. Many people don’t realize how much fun and help animals can be.

    The Abilities Expo - 8Other Workshops:

    Occasionally, we’ll have workshops for caregivers. Intimacy and relationships are other topics that many of our attendees are interested in, and parenting is another popular topic. In the financial planning topic, individuals learn about money management or putting a financial plan in place for a loved one with a disability. We’ve also found that our caregivers are just as interested in our workshops as our other attendees are. For caregivers, we have a workshop topic on “How to Take Care of Yourself.” We also work with partners who come to our shows and offer educational workshops too.

    The Abilities Expo – More Fun than a Three Ring Circus

    The Abilities Expo - 11

    Our events take place all three days of the Abilities Expo. Many of our events are demonstrations that the attendees can try while they’re at the shows, including adaptive dancing, adaptive gardening, makeovers and all kinds of adaptive sports, including rowing, rock climbing, quad rugby, wheelchair basketball and tennis. Also we have other events not focused just on people who use wheelchairs like yoga and archery. Last year we had one of the nation’s top blind archers at our show.

    In the events arena, we often talk about and demonstrate how service dogs can help you and frequently bring in horses and demonstrate all the ways you can work with them. Sometimes we have miniature horses, and other times we have full sized horses. Besides specific events like the ones I’ve described, we offer events too that last all day, including rowing sessions and a hand cycle station. We even have a makeup area and face painting sites for kids and for adults.

    abilities expo sports

    When the Abilities Expo comes to town, everyone knows they’ll have fun there. We’re convinced that having fun, while seeing new products, learning new activities, testing new technology and talking to medical professionals is very important. We want everyone who comes to have fun, plus their siblings, children and grandparents too. The Abilities Expo isn‘t just for people with disabilities, it’s for their families and caregivers too.

    One of the events we have is up/down tennis, where we teach both the person who can stand and the other who is in a wheelchair to play together. We also have radio controlled model cars, adaptive video games and radio controlled helicopters that you can fly. All these activities have adaptive control devices. So, even if you don’t have the ability to participate in very active sports, the Abilities Expo still offers plenty of fun things to do, regardless of your ability level.

    The Abilities Expo - 9

    With our adaptive video games, you can play with other gamers all over the world. We strongly recommend that you bring your video cameras, digital cameras and Smartphones that are capable of taking pictures and videos at the Expo. Another reason that people come to the Abilities Expo and return year after year is because the Expo enables people to make more friends and meet more people who are like them.

    Thirty-eight percent of the attendees have some type of disability. At the Expo, if you have a disability, you’re the normal person there, and you don’t feel out of place, because you’re surrounded by other people just like you. The same is true of caregivers. Caregivers can meet other caregivers just like them, share their experiences and get to know each other.

    How You Can Attend the Expo

    For more information about the Abilities Expo and when they’re coming to your area, go to, and click on the name of the show that’s closest to where you live. Once you select a show, you can register whether or not you’re sure you’ll attend, which signs you up for all the notifications to let you know what will be happening at the shows. You can sign up for “The Ability Buzz,” which is our monthly newsletter with many great stories about what’s happening on in the community.


    Abilities Expo and Wheel:Life are proud to announce that they have joined together in a national organizational partnership for 2015.

    As part of the organizational partnership arrangement, Wheel:Life will be providing educational content and informative articles to the Abilities Expo community website as a free resource for Abilities Expo attendees. Abilities Expo participants will also be able to obtain any of the Wheel:Life e-books on fundraising and relationships for free by filling out a simple request form on the Abilities Expo website.

    Additionally, Wheel:Life will be participating in three of the six Abilities Expo events throughout 2015, with staff reporting from the Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC metro area shows.  Learn more.

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    The Healing Powers of Grounding Therapy for Wheelchair Users

    Editor’s Note:  Having grown up on a farm in rural Montana, Clint ...


    Cruising the Planet with Amputee Debra Kerper

    Editor’s Note: When a bone infection complicated by lupus took ...


    The Online Dating Experience for the Disabled

    Dating is hard. Dating is really hard. If you have a disability, ...


    Inclusion, Adventure, and Therapy with Freedom Concepts

    Editor’s Note: In 2014, Michigan residents Caroline Booth and Matt ...


    Where Do You Want to Go?

    Have you always dreamt of seeing the Aurora Borealis in Alaska? Or ...


    TerrainHopper USA: Bringing Adventure and Freedom to People with Disabilities

    Editor’s Note:  Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, Todd Lemay ...


    Breaking Down Broadcasting Barriers with Paul Amadeus Lane

    Editor’s Note: Growing up in Long Beach, California, Paul Amadeus ...


    Zebreda Dunham Powers Through Challenges on the Pitch and in Life

    Editor’s Note:  Born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, ...


    Adaptive Aerial Yoga Allows Wheelchair Users to Fly

      Editor’s Note: Texas native Sara Schaffer has been ...


    Sex, Love, and Disability:  Ben Duffy’s New Documentary Exposes It All

    Filmmaker Ben Duffy and Ajani “AJ” Murray met while working on a ...


    Amputee Bob Clausen Says If You Want Something Bad Enough, You Will Do It

    Editor’s Note:  Widower and Navy veteran Rober “Bob” ...


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

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


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

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


    Sheri Melander-Smith on Living Your Best Life

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


    5 Extreme Activities to Add to Your Bucket List

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


    Reflections and Lessons Learned in 2017

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


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

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


    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 ...


    Winter Weather Preparedness Tips for Wheelchair Users

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


    Making Adaptive Climbing More Accessible with Arthur Torrey

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


    Barbara Cramer – 75 Years of Defying Stereotypes

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


    Serving the Spina Bifida Community with the SBAGNE

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


    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 ...


    Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

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


    Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

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

    woman next to girl on Freedom Concepts adaptive bike

    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 ...

    women in wheelchairs dancing at Abilities Expo

    Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

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


    ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

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


    Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

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


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

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


    Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

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


    Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

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


    Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

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


    Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

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


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

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


    Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

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


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

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


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

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


    The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

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


    Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

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

    » Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

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


    The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

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


    How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

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


    Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

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


    Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

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


    The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

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


    Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

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


    Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

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


    Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

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


    Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

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


    Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

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


    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, ...


    Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

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


    Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

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


    Yoocan Get Empowered!

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


    Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

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


    Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

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


    Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

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


    Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

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


    Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

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


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

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


    Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

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


    Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

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


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

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


    Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

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


    Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

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


    Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

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


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

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


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

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


    Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

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


    Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

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


    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 ...


    AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

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


    A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

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


    Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

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


    Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

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


    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, ...


    Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

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


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

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


    Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

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


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

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


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

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


    Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

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

    engineered for adventure GRIT

    Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

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


    Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

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


    Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

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


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

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


    Welcome to Wheel:Life

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