My Favorite Moments at This Year’s LA Abilities Expo

My Favorite Moments at This Year’s LA Abilities Expo
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On Saturday morning, Feb. 22, I awoke with excited anticipation of the day ahead. That day, I attended the Los Angeles Abilities Expo for the second year in a row. 

Attending the 2020 LA Abilities Expo was a different experience this year simply because I brought my boyfriend, Will, with me. The expo was my opportunity to introduce him to the world of disabilities. I also figured he’d enjoy seeing the advanced technology that’s featured at the event. 

If you’ve ever attended an Abilities Expo, you’ll know that each one is full to the brim with vendors whose mission is to make the world easier and more accessible for disabled members of the community. The many vendors with their array of intriguing products make it difficult to know where to begin when entering the expo.

In this week’s column, I will narrow my experience by listing my four favorite things at the LA Abilities Expo. 

Wheelchair-accessible vehicles 

At the Abilities Expo, you can always expect many wheelchair-accessible vehicles and adaptive products. The amount of real estate they inhabit at the expo makes them incredibly difficult to ignore.

This driver’s seat by Adapt Solutions gives the user the ability to transfer to and from their car to their wheelchair. Another product that caught my eye was the SPEEDY-LIFT that can pick up any wheelchair under 95 pounds and place it in the vehicle with the touch of a button.

A wheelchair-accessible vehicle that stood out was AeroMobility’s rear-entry Kia Soul. Will brought this model to my attention. We were both astounded that such a compact car could be remodeled to accommodate a wheelchair. Because of its compact design, it is best suited to those who use manual wheelchairs, child-sized wheelchairs, or scooters. 

3E Love

This year’s LA Abilities Expo was a first for the renowned company 3E Love. I was delighted to see their booth, which was packed with clothing and accessories adorned with their wheelchair heart logo. I decided to show my support by adding to my collection of disability advocacy wristbands, a purple bracelet decorated with the words, “Love Life.”

Therapy ponies

As I browsed the aisles, I decided to take a break from all of the hustle and bustle. The event arena seemed like a good place to rest while listening to a seminar about therapy horses.

The founder of Dream Catcher of Los Angeles, Joan Blank, described the company’s many clients including children, adults, and veterans with cognitive, physical, and emotional limitations. Blank also discussed the mental and physical benefits of riding horses for people with disabilities. I observed children flocking to the Dream Catcher’s booth with fascination in their eyes.

The Rollettes 

As readers of my column might have guessed, I couldn’t leave the expo without visiting the Rollettes. It wouldn’t have been fitting to wear my Rollettes T-shirt without at least saying hello. This year, I got the chance to speak with Stephanie Aiello, a dancer in the group, a YouTuber, and a campaign model for the beauty store company Ulta. We talked like old friends about makeup and our disabilities and ended our conversation with a photo together.

From left, The Rollettes dancer, Stephanie Aiello, and columnist Leah Leilani. (Courtesy of Leah Leilani)

Nothing quite compares to an Abilities Expo. It’s powerful when people of different backgrounds, races, religions, and genders come together to embrace our one commonality. I highly suggest attending an expo if you haven’t already.

Have you attended an Abilities Expo? If so, what were your favorite moments? Please share in the comments below. 

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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