PossAbilities seeks to provide all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to discover the boundless ways to find joy and satisfaction in a meaningful life. We feel strongly that every individual has the opportunity to make their community a better place. Leadership comes from the disabled and the able-bodied alike, working together to enable and empower one another. Turning this leadeship into action requires knowledge. PossAbilities is providing the following statistics in an effort to help educate our community about the many social disparities often facing individuals with disabilites. By creating awareness we hope to provide knowledge that will help everyone become better advocates for the disabled and to help share our vision nationwide.
National studies and reports have repeatedly documented that compared to their non-disabled peers, students with disabilities are less likely to receive a regular high school diploma, drop out twice as often, enroll in and complete post secondary education programs at half the rate, and are employed at approximately one-thrid the rate (32% compared to 81%) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; National Council on Disability, 2003; National Longitudinal Transition Study – 2, 2005).
In the United States there are over 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. Consider the following:
Meet Doug Vincent – Professional Radio DJ and Community Activist. On August 23, 1955 Doug Vincent was born into a world that didn’t have a polio vaccination. One morning his mother went to wake Doug and he hadn’t moved from the position she had left him in the night before. She knew something wasn’t right. Not only Doug, but his brother as well contracted the polio virus. The prognosis wasn’t great. Doug would never walk again and doctors thought he would never be out of leg braces, but he sure did surprise them. After several surgeries, some to stabilize joints, some to move muscles and even fuse joints, Doug went on to live a very active and full life through his adolescent and teen years.
After graduating high school and taking some college courses, Doug heard about a radio workshop called the KiiS Broadcasting Workshop. He mustered up some courage to go to an audition and by the end of 3 hours of orientation and a recorded audition he knew that was what he wanted to do. That night changed the course of his life. He went on to work at an FM rock station in Santa Maria, CA. Doug’s skills improved as he transitioned through different stations over the years eventually ending up in Southern California. From Program Director to Production Director, Doug has either been on the air or behind the scenes in radio since 1985. In 1993, Doug joined Kfrg radio station and has been famous for his voice ever since. Doug is a member and past president of the Kiwanis Rancho Cucamonga Club. In 2011, he received the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha Foundation Dunlap Fellowship award for outstanding service to the community. During his tenure as President of the Kiwanis Rancho Cucamonga Club, his group was given the Distinguished Club award. Doug is also a two-time “Kiwanian of the Year”. In 2008, Doug became a member of PossAbilities and has since participated in the annual triathlon (with his daughter who is an avid athlete), handcycling, and advocating for those with disabilities. He MC’s events for the program and has continued to share his giving spirit with those in the community.
Meet Jamie Woodford – Professional Nurse and Certified ACA Peer Visitor. Jamie had always been a strong person, up for any challenge, and one day almost three years ago she was forced to put that strength to the test. On July 30, 2008, “I was involved in a motorcycle accident”, recalls Jamie.” After spending 30 days in the hospital and undergoing three surgeries, the doctors were able to save my leg. It had been severely broken though, and was reconstructed using two plates and multiple screws. A year passed and it was still not healing, so that’s when I made the decision to amputate my left leg”.
Jamie’s leg was amputated above the knee on October 14, 2009, but her spirit remained strong, and just two weeks later she was back to working 12-18 hour shifts as a college instructor! Less than two months after that she took her first steps using a prosthetic leg after spending a year and a half on crutches. Today, Jamie is an ACA certified peer visitor, and active in the amputee community. She recently graduated from the nursing program at Beaumont Adult School. Jamie says, “I hope with my experience and education I will be able to better help others with disabilities.”
Meet Bill Nessel – Entrepreneur and Disability Advocate. Bill Nessel, born in Chicago, had skills in welding, a career in life insurance sales, and was a business owner and pressman. In 1974, he joined the San Bernardino County Sheriff ’s Department as a reserve deputy doing mounted search and rescue and law enforcement. While he was a reserve deputy he managed to operate his printing businesses at the same time. It was there that he was a unit commander twice and a reserve deputy chief for three years. In 1997, he retired from the department, where he had ridden horses for 13 years and 4wd ATVs the last ten years. He completed 23 years of service and became the “Godfather” of the ATV program in the county. In 2002, his whole world changed. He became a right-leg-above-the-knee amputee as a result of having been a smoker for 43 years. He had nine surgeries on his right leg and was in the hospital for six weeks. He almost didn’t come home. He felt that instead of hitting a bump in life’s road, he had hit a huge pothole. He was fortunate enough to find a local amputee support group where he attended meetings. Nessel says, “I can’t express enough what a huge help that group became. I decided early on that life does go on and I should make the best of it.” He feels he was spared for a reason— to help other amputees just as he had been helped. Bill is very involved in the disabled community. In addition to being a proud member of PossAbilities, volunteer at Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus (LLUMCEC) and a certified amputee peer visitor Bill participates in and supports the following organizations: the Amputee Coalition (AC), the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative (IEDC), the Amputee Connection of Redlands and The Limb Connections (TLC).