A Wheelchair Tour of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa

Ann McClure's picture

The specially equipped Dodge Sprinter pulled into the Morningside College parking lot, transporting my campus guide and his Quickie 646 SE motorized wheelchair.

I stuck my hand out. Alex could raise his arm but had no mobility in his hands, so I shook his outstretched fist. Freshman year, he had damaged his spinal cord in a diving accident and lost the use of his legs and hands. “Ready to go?” he asked as I grabbed my manually operated wheelchair, on loan from the nursing department.

“Ready as ever,” I said, not altogether sure how to operate the thing. As I struggled to get over the tiny ribbon of tar between the parking lot and sidewalk, Alex zipped around the lot doing wheelies, as if to say, “You have no idea what you’re in for.”

Motoring backward while talking, like an admissions office tour guide, he was contagiously optimistic. “Sure, I have challenges now,” he said, “but I’m not going to let them take over my life.”

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