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Monday, May 21, 2012

Phoenix councilman rides in wheelchair for a day-"hardest thing I ever did"

At 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Councilman Tom Simplot started his day as usual, at the Metro light rail stop in front of his home in central Phoenix.
But on this particular morning, there was something out of the ordinary.

Simplot, a healthy, able-bodied person, was in a wheelchair.

He wasn't hurt.

He didn't get into an accident.

On this day, Simplot was taking part of the Wheelchair Challenge to learn more about the challenges people with disabilities face, and to raise awareness on civil rights issues for the disabled.
Jennifer Longdon, chairwoman of the Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues, presented the challenge to several elected officials via Facebook. Simplot was the first to bite.

"As a person who makes policy, you need to know what others go through," Simplot said.
In just a day using the wheelchair, Simplot said he realized several challenges.

First, when getting on board the light rail, he had to make sure his wheels were perfectly perpendicular to the entrance, otherwise the chair would get caught in a groove in the door.
Also, he forgot to turn on the breaks when he got on board. So when the light rail took off, so did Simplot.

Simplot also realized how hard being in a wheelchair was.

His mid-back started to ache and he soon realized how difficult it was to open and go through doors without standing up.

"I've jumped off of airplanes, I've rappelled down buildings and I've spelunked to the bottom of Kartchner Caverns," Simplot said. "This is, by far, the most challenging thing I've done."

Mayor Greg Stanton is expected to take the Wheelchair Challenge at a later date.
Stanton, a huge basketball fan, likely will shoot some hoops in a wheelchair as part of his challenge.


Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2012/05/17/20120517councilman-rides-wheelchair-day.html#ixzz1vWdcdAlt

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