Thirteen years ago, Denise Drake (President of the Louisiana Chapter)
began using a wheelchair to go from place to place. Of course, it took some
getting used to but she was a quick learner, determined to adapt to her
view of the world from a wheelchair. Since that time, her world has gotten
a whole lot bigger.
She's traveled to seven countries on three continents, including: England,
Italy, Virgin Islands, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii and now ... Tahiti. In December, 1997,
she left her home in New Orleans equipped with manual chair, motorized chair
and an attitude that says, "Anything is Possible."
She flew to Los Angeles, then on to Tahiti. Soon, without asking, she
was in the arms of handsome locals who valiantly whisked her across white
sandy beaches and into the blue/green waters of the Pacific Ocean. The bronzed
skin of her new friends made the perfect canvas for the tattoos that are
such an honored part of the Tahitian culture. They talked for hours while
warm breezes made soothing sounds passing through the palms that lined the
shore. The music of a ukulele added to the intimacy and intensity of the
To say that Denise's fellow travelers, all of them able-bodied, looked
on with envy is to tell the truth. How is it that someone with so many physical
limitations is able to have such extraordinary experience in a land of strangers
on the other side the world? I believe there are good, friendly, warm people
everywhere you go, she says. There is everything out there if you are adaptable
and think that life will be accessible.
Denise believes that a person's attitude toward travel is similar to
the attitude toward life. If you are going to worry about things being
able to fit you perfectly, you'll live a closed life. I believe its extremely
important to travel and not be closed minded ....to have just one way of
seeing things. Different ways may be different, but they add up to the same
One example is foods. In the South, with all our spices, food has a beauty
that you wont find in another part of the country. But, in the North, its
another beauty. Beauty of the mountains, the land, the water. Its always
about beauty. What surprised Denise about Tahiti was the beauty of the people.
The combination of the people, and the earth, and the water produced a serenity
I'll never forget, especially coming at Christmas time. The lack of conflict
and crime and competition among the Tahitians, where you have total strangers
so sincere in wanting to help you..... Her voice fades, thinking about the
Denise Drake believes there are good, friendly and warm people everywhere
you go. People who have so much to teach us. In Tahiti, she now knows Peace
on earth; goodwill towards man, is a lesson in day-to-day living.