I received my first wheelchair when I was 10 years old. Before that magical day, I got around using a variety of methods. If I was going a short distance, I walked with a walker and braces, or with crutches, and for a while, I was able to walk unassisted. If I was going a longer distance, my family and I got pretty creative. My absolutely favorite option was having my dad pick me up and sit me on his shoulders. I went from being 4 foot something to being over 6 feet tall in a blink of an eye(my dad is 6 feet tall). I got to play in his hair and ask him questions such as, “Dad, would you ever get a Mohawk?” When my dad wasn’t around, I would either use a rental wheelchair or would sit on a bench. These were the customary options until one particular visit to my mom’s family.
When I was little, I absolutely loved anything having to do with speed. Whether riding my bike as fast as possible, having friends run as they pushed me in my wheelchair or blazing down a ski trail, nothing excited me more than going at top speed(in the interest of full disclosure, I STILL love going at top speed)! This is probably why I also loved watching sports where speed was the ultimate goal. I use the term “watch” loosely because watching generally meant that while a sport was on t.v., little Allison would cheer loudly for the person she wanted to win, jump up and down on the couch and stomp her feet in sheer excitement to will her chosen athlete to victory. By the time I was done “watching” these sporting events, I was so out of breath you would have thought I was the one competing!
One of my favorite sports to “watch” was track. And I especially enjoyed watching the track events at the summer Olympics. One summer afternoon, I was watching the Olympics and rooting for the track star, Flo Jo(I loved her nails!). After watching some of my other favorite track stars win their events and receive their Olympic medals, I had an epiphany.
Eight words that I bet my mom never thought she’d say when she and my dad received my diagnosis of CP, but always expect the unexpected when you have two adventurous daughters.
I grew up in a residential neighborhood in the Midwest, where many families had children around my age. During summer vacation, all of the neighborhood kids, myself included, would gather outside and play from sun up ‘til sundown, taking breaks only for lunch and dinner. Even then, we would eat as quickly as possible so as not to miss out on the latest game or a trip to the candy store. One of the favorite past times of the group was climbing the tree in my family’s backyard. Ordinarily, we would ride our bikes and big wheel(I was rocking a lovely pink big wheel- sadly, the store didn’t have a purple one), to the base of the tree where everyone would climb the tree and I would stay on the ground to be the lookout. Technically, we weren’t quite allowed to climb that tree but hey, what is childhood without bending – ok, breaking- a few rules.