Are you Dis-abled?? I am a T-10 Complete Para and I get chills every time someone calls me Dis-abled.
I have no feeling from my belly button down and I have no movement from T-10 & down. Does this make me Dis-abled? NO IT DOESN'T. It makes me DO-ABLED. Now as Paul Harvey says, "Now for the rest of the story."
I have been a building contractor every since I go out of the Navy in 1971. I have always been a real go-getter. Every time I was faced with a challenge building a new house or business, I would study the dilemma and figure it out. I always felt there was a way to make it work. Solutions were always there. This has been my steadfast belief from day one. At least I thought that until May 23rd 1994.
I was building a warehouse when the unthinkable happened. I was one day from completion of this year long project and was up on a ladder inside this warehouse about twenty five feet from the concrete floor and the ladder slipped out from under me. I fell this distance and, in turn, I became paralyzed from the waist down.
I had been divorced from my X-wife for about four years before this. I never wanted anything to do with marriage again. At least that was my intentions. I met a beautiful woman about nine months before the accident. We got married in March of '94 and was ready to start a new life together. We took a cruise to the Bahamas for our honeymoon and came home ready to get on with our new lives. We had been married for a grand total of two months when I had the accident.
I wondered what going to happen from here out. My wife was running herself to death trying to help me with everything I had facing me. She stood beside me as my lower body was going paralyzed. I started feeling sorry for myself because I couldn't do the things I had been able to do before. I didn't want her to have to go through this so I told her I wanted a divorce.
She told me there will be no divorce. She also told me that if I wanted out of this marriage, she would shoot me and then told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with our lives. She pulled no punches.
I started thinking, "Where will I go from here?" That answer came with a swift dose of reality. I am now going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life and I had better get used to it. It took me about a year to face that fact. I started to make the decision to go forward.
With me being a veteran of the Navy, I could take my pension and retire. After much thought and prayer, I took the retirement. Now both of us had a lot of time to do what we wanted to do. We traveled a little and that got old fast. We have both been hard workers all our lives and to waste that now at an early age would be a sin. We joined a veterans organization called The Paralyzed Veterans of America. We started meeting all kinds of people who were in the same condition as I was in, and they were making a difference. We quickly joined in and rolled our sleeves up and got to work as volunteers to make the world a better place for people with disabilities.
We were amazed at the places we couldn't get into. I would get mad at these places and just leave. We started studying the rules of the ADA, and we were in for a quick lesson in what these business are supposed to do. We went to a seminar in Washington D.C. that helped us to help others. It was on the rules of the ADA. With all we had learned from the seminar and all we had read, we were ready to start fixing all the wrongs to people with disabilities. We got to speak to a lot of people in wheelchairs and with other unseen disabilities and heard the HORROR stories they have been through. Our fate was sealed at that time.
As in business, I took the same attitude I had while I had been working. Never take NO for an answer. As we would go into a business that was not accessible and I would ask to speak to the owner or manager. I am always nice to them and ask them to look into a way to fix the problem. Most are not willing to do anything about the problem. We then give the rules of the ADA and show them they are responsible to make the changes. I have been thrown out of more businesses than I care to remember. I would call the Department of Justice and file a complaint and sit back and watch. Most of the time, the problem is resolved.
I went to a city council meeting in our county seat to talk to them about the city not enforcing the ADA laws. The city council didn't want to hear from me and told me I would be removed if I said one more word. Guess what? I said, "One more word!!" The police were called to remove me and seven other people in wheelchairs from the meeting. I begged the police to arrest me and take me to jail, but they told me they wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole. I filed charges against the city and guess what? They started fixing the problems. Of course, with the network television stations there and recording all that happened, they did as I had so politely asked them to do before I was thrown out. As I said before, I DO NOT take NO for an answer.
It was shortly after that meeting that I had a doctor's appointment. It was a beautiful day that day, so I went outside while I was waiting to see the doctor. A man was sitting outside with me and he looked over and told me he felt sorry for me because I am paralyzed. I asked him a question. The question was, "How many times do you have a good looking woman open doors for you?" His answer was NEVER. I told him, "I do everyday, and now who should feel sorry for who?" He agreed and left with a whole new meaning of being disabled.
There is nothing a person with a disability can't do. Just because you sit in a chair or have to walk with crutches does not make you disabled. It makes you DO-ABLIED. It is mostly in your mind if you think you are disabled. Where there is a will, there's a way. I am a living example of that. I have now been happily married to my wife and we will continue to keep on keeping on.
I will be happy to try and help out ANYONE that needs help with adjustment or any other problem without ANY COST AT ALL!!!
Your friend in a chair, Randy Lemmons
It's now time to go on to bigger and better things, getting on with life as we know it!
BRING THEM HOME! You have achieved excellence as a leader when people will follow you anywhere, if only out of curiosity.---Colin W. Powell
We are saddened to say that Pumbaa has passed away. She was laid to rest in November of 2005. We are going to leave her page as it is in her memory.
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