When I was a kid, my family used me to bump to the front of the line for the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World. Despite my kicking and screaming because I was scared of the ghosts and creepy effects on the ride, my parents made me suck it up and come with them. Meanwhile, they let my older brother stay behind and eat ice cream.
No, I’m not bitter at all.
I’m kidding! I love my parents and am grateful for everything they do for me.
Looking back on this little episode though, I really can’t blame my parents. This was one of the first times in my life I realized that having a disability does have its benefits, and it would’ve been foolish not to take advantage of the one in this situation. My “handicapped card” has allowed me to skip to the front of long lines, acquire free movie tickets, get killer seats at shows and concerts, and of course, take my service dog out in public and catch the attention of countless girls.
One time during my sophomore year of college, I was out bowling with some friends at an alley across the street from campus. As I was on a lift to get me from the entrance level to the main floor, the machine malfunctioned and I was stuck on it for a few minutes. Fortunately, the staff was able to fix it within a few minutes and get me to the main level. My friends and I had a great time, and we thanked the staff for fixing the lift.
The staff, however, wanted to thank us for our patience and apologize for the inconvenience with the lift. Before we left, they gave us 10 free passes and told us we could use them anytime. More freebies!
I also attribute my passion for film and storytelling to the fact that I’ve been able to see so many movies. When I was a kid, there was a nearby movie theater that allowed a companion and me in for free. As such, my dad and I would go every weekend. Today, theaters owned by Regal Entertainment Group allow a companion to get in with me for free. Anytime I go with a friend, I ask them for a ride in exchange for admission.
In college, when I hired a couple of close friends as PCAs, my friend Jacob used to joke that he had to go to work by getting paid to go to movies with me.
Too often we focus on the restrictions put on us as citizens with disabilities. It is true that we still have a ways to go in terms of expanding our rights, but let’s not forget the perks that come with living life on wheels. When you’re in a wheelchair, you’re bound to have a few freebies come your way.
Note: SMA News Today 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 other 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 SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.