There are no rinks in the country that are set up to accommodate to the needs of the disabled. In this day and age, how ridiculous does that sound? This project will be a beacon showing the way forward. It will set a standard for the world to follow. The opportunity to be involved in this endeavor is something that should ignite passion. It shows that we are willing to put the needs of the less fortunate before the normal considerations of business, while entering into a venture that makes good business sense! Listen again, there are ZERO facilities like this in the WORLD! The need for this project is apparent, and the time to act is right now.
My name is Sean Gagnon, and I was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2014. At the time, I was living in Atlanta studying to be a chiropractor. I had been experiencing symptoms for about two years before that, but being that I was a stubborn person, I refused to believe that it was anything more than a phase that I could easily get through by hitting the gym, or changing my diet. Since then, I have experienced a steady decline in the ability of my brain to be able to control my muscles. Currently, I write this on a computer that is controlled by my eyes. It still has yet to sink in fully, and truthfully, I think that’s a good thing. It’s important to feel like there is a hopeful tomorrow, and one of my goals is to show why this project helps accomplish that.
I will begin with the aspect of the project that I believe can have the longest lasting effect. Employment can be transformative. Think of how you view your own life. We all identity by a certain set of traits; whether it’s family, friends, home, or hobbies, everyone garners some sense of identity by the job they have. It can be a job, or a career, but some sense of who we are is supplied by the activity for which we are compensated.
Often, when one is labeled as “disabled,” their ability to gain employment is limited, or taken outright. This alone can be the basis of a lack of self worth. With this rink however, the ability to change that paradigm for the community arises! The employees of this rink can earn back some of the identity that is so difficult to maintain when certain labels are attached. This effect can be as extensive as desired by the people involved. As a person who, everyday, finds new ways to achieve tasks that should be unavailable to me, I can assure you that not only is this possible, it should be prioritized.
I can personally vouch for how this can affect a life! I used to trade commodities in New York City, and I loved it. In college I waited tables and worked at the New York Mercantile Exchange. In high school I worked at a hockey shop, and before that, my first job was at a golf course. I’ve had a job that I loved my whole life, until the doctor said those three letters. A. L. S. Since then I have been on the outskirts of the employed, racking my brain for some way to contribute, but always coming up empty handed. Then something happened that I’m so grateful for, I don’t know how to repay the kindness. Martin Richardson saw the hunger I had to make a difference, and he refused to dismiss it. He charged me with providing a new perspective on the project he has undertaken. He has not only given me the responsibility of assisting a project that’s unique and humbling, he has given me something so crucial to my personal humanity: an identity, and a voice. It is my hope that others will be afforded the same chances to enhance their own individualities! It makes a difference!