Friday, June 22, 2012

Competition, Motivation, Determination

Shari Lynne: Sean and I returned to our Thursday practices at Northerly Island this week. We weren't 100% sure the Northerly Island practices were happening last week because of the big weekend previously, but we also wanted to make sure we were healed enough (from sunburns, massive bruises, and sores) and got a workout routine down, somewhat, before returning.

It was rough on Coach Stacee because she didn't have as many volunteers as usual because more than half the group was preparing for races that evening and others preparing/anticipating the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon on Sunday. So, Coach Stacee was also pulling double-duty, helping load up a truck to transport all the necessary adaptive equipment. So, it took us a little extra time getting set up to use the handcycle.

Sean: I decided to try out a handcycle for the first time yesterday. It was pretty cool. I had to get used to some parts of it, since it wasn't fitted for me, the way my everyday chair is. My elbows kept hitting the back tires, for example.

Shari Lynne: I got to break-in a newly donated handcycle, which was obvious barely used. It fit me better as far as the foot-plates were concerned, but the hand cranks were set too far in, so they kept hitting my legs at every rotation. I now have an extra bruise on my right thigh. It was still fun, though. Coach Stacee encouraged Sean and I to race, saying, "Now go chase her, Sean!", and that's all the motivation I needed to spark my competitive edge.

Sean: I ended up using the handcycle Shari Lynne was originally going to use. I'm taller, so I didn't have as many problems stabilizing my lower extremities. I had a problem with the foot-plate, and I removed my cheetah leg from my left. My right leg is pretty strong, so I was able to just use it without my leg strapped in because it's less difficult for me to turn.

Shari Lynne: Sean picked up steering and maneuvering the handcycle pretty quickly. He can even turn really well. I'm still working on tight turns, but I made all the turns around the route this time! So, yes, I'm a little jealous, but at the same time, I'm really proud of him and excited that it means, if he ever has a problem with his C-leg and can't use his regular bike, he can use a handcycle and not miss a beat while competing in a triathlon/dualthon, etc.

We haven't even gotten to the part about how we were "behaving" on the trail:

Before we even made it to the trail, I was trying to out-bike Sean, yelling and trash-talking on the way.

Sean:  I would pedal hard enough to either get right alongside of Shari Lynne or ahead of her, knowing that it would tick her off. I knew it would motivate her to go faster, getting alongside me, or pass me. Plus, it was hilarious because of all her trash-talking and yelling. Anytime I made progress enough to pass her, she would scream, "NO!" at the top of her lungs, and it was hilarious.

Shari Lynne: Several times, I threatened to run him off the road by merging into his lane/space, but I knew what I was doing, and I merged back before crashing. At one point, just after one of these Grease-esque race tactics, Sean told me he hit some of the brush on the border of the paved trail. I asked, "Was that my fault?!"

Sean: I said that if she meant by running me into the brush, then yes! It was hilarious! I could tell she was blocking me from moving forward because I could see her  moving into the middle of the road to prevent me from passing several times.

Shari Lynne: As it turns out, I learned a lot how to keep control of the handcycle while I was at the Training Camp, and I was careful to not actually hit Sean because I knew the handcycle was new.

Sean:  It was definitely a fun first attempt at the handcycle. It reminded us of playing on go-carts.  We were acting so much like we were kids, it made it so much more fun!

Shari Lynne: I promise we'll be careful every time, but it'll be nice to compete and motivate each other like that again. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dare2Tri Training Camp (Sean's Reflections)

This last weekend Shari Lynne & I went to Pleasant Prairie, WI, for the Dare2tri Chicago Paratriathlon Club's weekend training camp. Shari Lynne & I were given scholarships which covered most of the costs and we were (and are) so thankful and grateful we were provided the opportunity to participate.

After we arrived on the first day, the first item on the agenda was the meet & greet, which, as many events go, I did not know and was very unfamiliar with most of the people at the training camp and knew, obviously, Shari Lynne and, probably, only a handful of others. In fact, Shari Lynne and I met one person whom we were on the train ride with to the camp, knew about a half-dozen acquaintances before our arrival, and knew a couple of people, whom we count as friends, two people whom I know from the prosthetists' company I'm a client of. Of these two friends, both are certified prosthetists, of which, one is a “nondisabled” person who is my primary prosthetist who teaches and, the other, is an LAK (left above-knee) amputee who's not only a vet from the war in Iraq but is, also, a national para-triathlete champion.

On the first day, the first event/training I had to work on was swimming. The length of the pool was that of an Olympic-size swimming pool, if I'm not mistaken. That Friday, the first event I worked on was swimming, and the techniques involved were not that of the average swimmer as we were to employ the techniques of professional swimmers. Upon going into this practice, I must say that I had no idea what I was in for. I knew I had to build up stamina. I knew the different ways one could swim, even with one leg, but I had no idea how much technique was involved if one were a professional at swimming. For example, its best one knows which side is best for them to breathe in between strokes, that its best for one to only breathe out through their nose while underwater between breathes, and that one should not raise their head up to high while not only breathing but while swimming.

After lunch, the next event on the first day for me was ambulatory biking in the cycling studio. I have to say that this was both easy and difficult. It was easy for me in the sense that there was no set time limit or distance on the odometer which one has to meet. However, it was difficult for me since the stationary bike did not have a pedal which was adapted on the left side which would have made it a lot easier for me to bike. Don't get me wrong, I did not expect there to be... it just made cycling, for me, that much more a pain and difficult. The following day we did not use the stationary bikes which were in the exercise room of the fitness center we used. Instead, we were outside using the bikes which were provided for us, or our own personal bikes. Obviously, I brought and, thus, used my own bike not just because I'm used to it but, also, because the left pedal has been adapted for my prosthetic, so my 'foot' would not come loose from the pedal. (Note: For those who may wish to know, Chicago's Rapid Transit Cycle Shop not just sold me the bike I own but they also provided the adaptive equipment I use to ride my bike.)

The last activity for me on the first day was running in the gym. The group which I was a part of was ambulatory and primarily consisted of different types of leg amps, a visually impaired man, and TAB people. (Note: A TAB person is someone who is temporarily able-bodied, or someone who is commonly referred to as “nondisabled”). We did sprints of various types. Some of these sprints reminded me of some of the types of sprints/exercises football players do in training camp. The easiest for me were straight-forward sprints since I have been getting better and faster at them since I acquired my cheetah leg. The most difficult ones for me were the sprints we did running around cones moving either backwards or side-to-side.

On the second day, the first two exercises my group did before lunch was running and biking in the parking lot of the fitness facility we used. The sprinting we did in pairs. We did a fair amount of these sprints not just to build up speed but, also, to build up our stamina. The latter of which I am more in need of. The biking part for me was easy. It was easy since we were biking outside and not on stationary bikes but, also, because I was able to use my own bike. Sufficed to say, I was very much in my comfort zone during this activity.

After lunch, the two activities which we worked on were swimming in the open water of Lake Andrea, and learning how to transition between the three events for the triathlon. I did not find the open water swim to be too much different from swimming in the Aqua arena at the Recplex (fitness center). In fact, I did not find the transitioning to be greatly difficult either, with exception of ambulating from the lake over to where my prosthetic and bike were. Otherwise, I knew the logistics of getting on and off my bike, putting on my prosthetic, and switching from my c-leg to my cheetah leg, which I use for running.

The final day was, of course, the triathlon. In our case, since many of us are beginners, it was a 'mini-triathlon'. The pros had larger distances to cover in all three areas in the triathlon while the rest of us had smaller distances in each part of the event. It started at 8:30a and began with swimming. I was lucky enough to get out of the lake first but what held me up as far as time after this was trying to put my prosthetic on. I believe the distance we swam was probably around ¼ of a mile.. After spending close to five minutes putting on my leg and walking over to where my bike was at, I started biking, of course. I went around the lake twice and I believe the distance per lap was 2.3 miles, so the distance I covered was 4.6 miles. Finally, there was the running. By that point I was pretty tired but I was able to run about a mile. Looking back, I'm not sure if I could have swam or ran more than I did but I know I could have biked more. However, I know I could have biked more but the distances set were not so much chosen by me but, rather, my trainer. I believe he had picked the distances I did and I believe he did that because I am a beginner and we both were unsure of my endurance level.

Lastly, even though it was a "mini-triathlon" I am both proud that I did it and that I finished (in under an hour!). I am so proud of myself for finishing and even more proud of Shari Lynne for the same reasons. We both plan on keeping these activities up to better our health. However, it must be stated that Shari Lynne and I are not doing these activities to be “super-crips”. We find the idea in itself to be repugnant and offensive if one were to assume we are doing it for that very reason. Along with the health benefits, our other reasons are that it’s something we're both genuinely enjoying doing together and because we've developed an acute interest in para-triathlons.

Dare2Tri Training Camp (Shari's Reflections)

I knew this weekend would be life changing. I just didn’t realize how much. This past weekend, Sean and I participated in Dare2Tri’s (Chicago Paratriathlon Club) Paratriathlon Training Camp.

A triathlon consists of a Swim, Bike, and Run. As a “wheelchair athlete,” I use a handcycle for the Bike part, a Racing chair for the run, and I went back to basics learning how to swim. Oh, and transitions. The unofficial fourth category! In some ways, transitions are the most exciting part of the whole thing!
Jenn and Eugene with me in the racing chair!

Here’s what my schedule looked like…
Friday, June 8, 2012
                                                Wheelchair Racing
                                                Dinner on our own  
Saturday, June 9, 2012
                                                Wheelchair Racing
                                                Open Water Swim in Lake Andrea
                                                Transitions Training/Planning
                                                Pre-Race Dinner/Celebration
Sunday, June 10, 2012
                                    Super Sprint Triathlon (adapted to level of athlete as needed)
                                                Closing BBQ

When we first got there, we signed waivers and jumped right into introductions and straight into training. I introduced myself as “Sean’s fiancĂ©.” Why be bashful about that? We’ve been through a ton of changes as a couple in the past year, and we’re proud to find ourselves doing something so powerful and inspiring together. Yes, you read that right, I said inspiring! Yes, normally, I hate that word and how flimsy it comes across. In this case, when you’re talking about one disabled athlete inspiring another, I LOVE IT! The motto for Dare2Tri is “One Inspires Many.” It is SO true! I mean, Sean got into this first because he had a Cheetah leg donated to him. I saw him run, caught his enthusiasm about running and biking again, and I had to do it, too. If Sean can do it, why not me, right?! Besides, half the point of Dare2Tri existing is because there are so many people who want to be able to finish triathlons, marathons, or biking trails, but they don’t have the resources. The equipment is 2-3x more expensive than what most people pay. I’ve wanted to try Wheelchair Racing since at least high school, but I never had any way of trying the equipment. I don’t have anything sized to me yet, but it’s a start! I’ve literally already had a dream come true just because the adaptive equipment is within reach.

Well, after group introductions, I was introduced to my coach/handler. As I beginner, I was assigned someone to help coach me through every part of the triathlon and help keep me motivated and on-track. As a handler, that means she was also the person to assist in transitions, helping me transfer from water to wheelchair to handcycle to racing chair and back to my day chair again. Her name was Jenn, and I LOVE her! She was a great coach, and she stuck with me through the whole weekend!!! I am a big believer, regardless of confidence level, in continuity, so it was a relief I didn’t have to try to trust a new person later in the weekend. I think it helped that during the 1st swim training, we were cracking each other up most of the time. She literally had to go back-to-basics with me, figure out what I can do and still needed to learn, and go from there. It’s good to know that there’s hope for me becoming a better swimmer despite only having a doggy paddle and floating down pat. She even believes I could use my legs to swim, which I usually have out straight behind me for lack of understanding of how to maneuver them. I did revert back to the doggy paddle a little bit during the triathlon on Sunday, but I think that was panicking, more out of the unfamiliarity of the circumstances and fear of crashing into those who were also struggling in front of me than because I was scared of anything. I do need to get used to functioning underwater and NOT holding my breath. Who knew holding your breath was a bad idea while swimming? Competitive, long-distance swimmers, I guess. J

It turns out, handcycling is the one area I didn’t need a ton of coaching, I mean, yes, I needed some encouragement at some times and challenges thrown at me at other times to keep me motivated so it didn’t turn into some leisurely stroll through the RecPlex grounds, but I’d practiced a few times at Northerly Island (Chicago) prior to attending, and I figured out the gear shifts within a few minutes. Good to know my brain works! So glad I have ONE area of strength where I don’t have to learn/relearn everything. It’s good for my ego and will help keep me sticking with it. I can’t wait to get in the gym to buff up my arms to improve my speed.  

Considering the racing chair was the thing I was most looking forward to trying out, due in part to my past desire to compete in the Paralympics in track/road racing, it was quite a crush to my ego that it’s so difficult for me to operate the thing. Jenn had to remind me, in more than one scenario, I’m not expected to learn how to do everything perfectly in two days. I know that, I just wish the racing chair came easier to me. I felt like I was barely moving! The good news, I should have access to a racing chair at “practices” at Northerly Island, so I can get used to steering and maneuvering it. My overall plan is to get stronger, lose weight, improve my skill in all areas, and eventually write a grant to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to get my own racing chair. I’ll be even more confident when I have my own chair that I know fits me, but I want to make sure I can prove to the Foundation that I’m a committed athlete first.

I’ll have a handcycle before that happens, I hope. It’ll really suck if I only get to ride three months out of the year!

For the actual triathlon, yes, it was altered to fit [my and Sean’s] skill levels as beginners, but the point is to pull every category of a triathlon together and become an official triathlete! (I know Sean could have done more in all areas than he did, but his lack of confidence and quirks precede his athletics.) I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I burst into tears on my way across the finish line. My immediate family might dispute this fact, but I’m not that much of a crier. I grew up playing street hockey, basketball, and football with a bunch of boys, so I taught myself to not cry so easily. It took seven months for Sean to see me full-out cry. I’m still not sure why I cried, I guess there are a few reasons. Jenn kept saying it was from being overjoyed, and I think that’s correct. I was also in a lot of pain, though. Seriously, though, I did more in three days than I ever thought I could do in my entire life. It’s justifiably overwhelming. In fact, I don’t remember very much about the moment I crossed the finish line, but I remember looking at Melissa Stockwell, one of the coaches and the one who got Sean and I into Dare2Tri, she said to me, “You’re officially a triathlete now!” and I just cried harder. I was really excited! I just wish Sean could have watched me cross the finish line. L

Overall, I think deciding to go to this training camp was the best decision I have ever made in my life. For once, I’ve made a good decision for myself. Everyone was so supportive and friendly. Everyone treated me like a fellow athlete, no one made comments about my weight. I just keep telling myself, “I have to start somewhere.” Sometimes you just gotta stop making excuses and just do it. Yes, I realize I just quoted Nike, oh well. So they have a point. J 

I feel like my spirit has been lifted in a way that I thought I was getting by being involved in ADAPT and other organizations in the past, but there is nothing like pushing your body to its limit and keeping on going! I never once said "I can't!"... There was a point I wanted to quit early, but Jenn was there to remind me where the finish line is. Thanks, girl!

Thank you to those who donated so we could have a scholarship to be a part of this training camp!

Thank you D2T coaches and volunteers! You are all just as inspiring as the athletes!

Congratulations Dare2Tri Training Camp coordinators on a job well done!

On the way home, one of the coaches/organizers dropped us off at the Metra station in Kenosha. A guy was sitting on a bench outside the station and asked, "Are you guys from a group home or something" to Sean and me. My response was, "No, we just finished a Triathlon!" BEST. ANSWER. EVER. and it was TRUE!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

LONG Hiatus... We're Back!!!

Hey Fans and Followers:

We are definitely aware of how long we've been away. We've been through many "trials and tribulations" as is often said, some good, some bad. We'll share some of these stories as becomes appropriate, but for now, we'll start where we are. This past weekend,  we attended the Dare2Tri (Chicago Paratriathlon Club) Training Camp in Pleasant Prairie/Kenosha, WI. It was a life changing experience, and our next two blogs will be our individual reflections on it.

This time, for sure, we will be posting on a regular basis!!!

We hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. We will be back tomorrow. Stay Tuned!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Last Two Months... Oh, and Happy New Year! (Part Two)

Shari Lynne: I guess we could apologize again for taking so long to post Part Two, but hey, it was New Year's Eve; we met a new friend; and we randomly were invited to a very loud party. So here we are scrambling to finish our New Year post before the new year is too old of news. So, let's get back to the update!

Sean: Christmas with the Dentons was the least dramatic in recent history. Though I've only been to two Denton Christmases so far, at least there was no verbal grilling this year, since I've been made an honorary member of the far. I've learned the secret hand-shake, though, they reserve the right to revoke my membership and its privileges at any time.

Shari Lynne: Excuse me! I think I'm the one that has the right to revoke your privileges at any time, thankyouverymuch! LOL.

Sean: Chanukah was good because we had already exchanged gifts so we didn't have to worry about each other on Christmas. Thankfully, we were able to cover gifts for everybody this year, largely because we didn't have tuition/fees to pay.

Shari Lynne: It's been awkward for the last few years just showing up with maybe cards when everyone else has gifts to share.

Sean: So, we spent 4 days in MI, we got really late on the 27th. We had our luggage, two manual wheelchairs, forearm crutches, and many gifts--

Shari Lynne: -- including cookies and fudge! :)

Sean: We were exhausted and it took us a few days to recuperate and unpack. We had more low-key New Year's Eve plans. We were going to just have some snacks and probably watch TV. We had been invited to another New Year's shindig, but there were some people who were attending that party who are unsavory, and I would rather spend New Year's around people I enjoy instead of others who I find distasteful and risk being verbally, not-so-nice to them. Suffice it to say, we turned down that invitation and WERE going to stay home, and then we met our new neighbor, Mansour. He's really nice, a cool guy, His New Year's plans changed when his friends weren't able to make it for the New Year's Bash at Excalibur. We didn't know about his plans, and we invited him to hang out with us. Instead, he invited us to come with him, which we gladly accepted.

Shari Lynne: I thought it would be fun to go out on New Year's Eve for a change, but we finally made it into the club, I heard the throb of the club mixes and immediately thought, "Oh, what were we thinking!" However, we ended up having a good time drinking from the open bar, watching people in their very skimpy prom-ish get-ups, and dancing-more like head bobbing- to the music. Mansour was really sweet about going back and forth to the bar for drinks for all of us, since we couldn't get to the bar with all the people in the way of our wheeled accessories.

Sean: The open bar was supposed to last 'til 11pm, one thing we all have in common was that we'd had enough of the loud music and crowds, so we left early. Next we all made our way to Navy Pier to try to see the fireworks. We saw what we could but couldn't see a great amount of the fireworks and tried to leave before the finale to attempt to beat the crowds. We failed. We did our best to make our way out and called an accessible cab. Mansour very generously paid for the cab.

Shari Lynne: I tried to pay the driver, but Mansour had quicker/easier access to his wallet, so we will definitely have to pay him back in some other way in the future.We were pretty exhausted when we got back, but it was a good night, overall.

We hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year and look forward to more stories to share this year!

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Two Months... Oh, and Happy New Year! (Part One)

First, we must open by apologizing for not posting at all in the last 2 months!...Oops! We've had a lot of trips back and forth between MI.& IL and a few illnesses. We'll comment on some of these things in this post.

Shari Lynne: In the beginning of November, Sean and I went to a baby shower for my cousin Aaron and his wife, Gina, who had a baby girl named Emma on December 17th. I have another 2nd cousin. Sean was able to meet some more random family members, and we played some cheesy shower games.

Sean: I came back early because we had a ADAPT of Chicago Productions taping, where I was filmed doing an editorial piece about the poor job Sarah Palin has presented herself as a hypocrite since the 2008 election. Shari Lynne stayed in MI 'til the 18th because she had a volunteer commitment on the 16th. Meanwhile, we formally adopted our new kitty, Sweet Pea (named by Shari Lynne), who we waited 3 months to bring home. It was supposed to be an early one-year anniversary gift, but it turned into a late anniversary gift and early Chanukah gift (more on that later). She had ring worm, so the adoption facility, PAWS, kept her as long as necessary to make sure the infection was all gone. We ended up calling almost every week to see what the status was on her condition. A special thanks to Becky Schwartz Abramowitz for helping to bring her home on November 12th!

Shari Lynne: On November 16th, I was still staying at my dad and step-mom's place in MI, my volunteer opportunity had been canceled until February. I was kinda relieved about that, actually, because I couldn't find a ride to the meeting. Anyway, on the night of the 17th, I tried going to bed at a reasonable time, but I was restless. I got back out of bed, and ironically, Sean called my cell at the same time. Turns out, I should have just stayed in bed, even though it was nice to talk to Sean, because as I went to turn on the light in the living room and sit on the couch in the living room, I lost my balance and caught myself by grabbing the window sill and the side of the couch. Unfortunately, I crunched my hand into the arm of the couch (screw you CP and random balance issues!). I went to an ER once back in Chicago. I broke my ring finger on my left hand; they had to cut off my engagement ring; which made me cry, it costs more to get it fixed than it cost to buy it; and now, it's  "healed" crookedly. My Dad was wonderful enough to buy a new ring for me, but since my finger is now crooked, I can't even try on the new ring. :(

Sean: When Shari Lynne got back into town, her Dad (Gordon) and step-Aunt Joy had driven her, and Gordon stayed for the weekend. She was so happy to see our new addition, Sweet Pea. Aunt Joy didn't stay with us, she's got a daughter and son-in-law (Ali and Steve), who live a couple miles from us, but she had dinner with us, and she brought us to an early vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner at Ali and Steve's house. It was pretty good food! It wasn't too weird having Gordon over. He helped us shop for groceries and made breakfast and other meals for us.--

Shari Lynne: --Sweet Pea loves Dad! He was the first person that she cuddled up to and let pet her, which made me totally jealous!... That's changed, now. Just today she visited me three times for a petting/cuddle session. She loves to be petted.

Sean: It was interesting, your Dad's stay because, on the one hand, he got to remind me over and over again how weird I am.--

Shari Lynne: --which, "coincidentally" is the same thing I do everyday. :)

Sean: On the other hand, he said, you're strange, but I like you, you're a good guy. He appreciates my sense of humor, overall, but especially about my disability. It was nice of him to say that, it meant a lot, and it was unexpected, too.

For Thanksgiving, Shari Lynne, Mom, and I went to Peotone, IL to visit my aunt and uncle. Mom met us here, at the apartment. We took the bus down to Millennium Station and then a train down to University Park where my grandfather (Papa) picked us up. It was the first major holiday since Mama (my grandmother) died, so it was important for us to be there. It was good for me to see my younger cousins, who live with my aunt and uncle, but otherwise, it felt socially awkward.

Shari Lynne: The food was pretty good, though. :)

Sean: Next came was interesting because I've never celebrated it before. Shari Lynne is converting to Judaism (Reform). I'm agnostic, but Judaism is growing on me. If anything, I do appreciate the community/cultural aspects of it.

Shari Lynne: I decided in October 2008, after years of curiosity about Judaism and months of questioning in 2008 to convert. I've been struggling for years to find a way to accept the Baptist/Wesleyan Christianity that I've grown up with, when so much of what most Christian denominations preach does not fit with my values. I started reading about Judaism, particularly the Reform Movement because that is the Movement my brother Justin's partner, Elon's family belongs to, and the one my cousin, Carissa converted to in 2001. I appreciated the concentration on social justice issues and hoped to have family to share holidays with when it becomes official. When I met Sean, we had a brief discussion about it, and when I knew we'd be getting married, I insisted he at least learn along with me about Judaism so that I am not the only one teaching our hypothetical children about it. :)

 So, anyway, it was fun to celebrate together, for the first time, and start creating our own traditions for the holidays. We still visited my side of the family for Christmas because that's the only time we are guaranteed to see Justin and Elon (New Yorkers) every year. This year was unique where travel is concerned because we were able to leave Chicago on the same train as Elon and got to visit with him for a few hours outside the "Denton-drama-bubble," as I call it.

Both: Good-Night for now!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

Sean: We went to see two friends of mine who are in a band called Daemon Familiar, at Quenchers, on Western. One of my future groomsmen, Ryan McGraw, met us there, and we attempted to catch up in the loud bar. We were late, but we got there in time to hear a few good songs, and my friend, Pablo bought us a couple beers before we left. I kept getting confused about what band they were covering. For some reason, I thought it was Styx, but it was Cheap Trick. They really did rock! I enjoyed hearing and catching up with them.

Shari Lynne: I'm in favor of seeing them again in another show.

Sean: I can't wait to see them again.

Shari Lynne: It was enough of a pain-in-the-butt getting to the bar, but we had quite the adventure trying to get home. First we took a bus to the Fullerton L station, where we got off at N. Clark St. (Wrigleyville)

Sean: There were plenty of cars because people were getting to/leaving parties, and there were plenty of drunk people...blocking traffic, walking around in the street, getting into fights, and who knows what else in public.

Shari Lynne: It was annoying enough to see the huge crowd, but it was a little concerning for me to see all the women with costumes including teeny tiny skirts. Yes, I get the concept of a woman having the right to wear a short skirt if she wants, I've been there, done that, myself. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes, it's taken a bit far. Besides, it's too cold! We even saw one where all she was wearing was caution tape as a dress and a construction worker's vest as a costume. We did dress up ourselves, last night. I wasn't wearing a costume, but I wore a sexy-ish top, but I wore pants. It's too frickin' cold for a skirt, no matter the length. Sean wore his prosthetic, and he dressed up as House.

Sean: cane and all! Good thing I have a natural limp going for me when I wear my prosthetic.

Shari Lynne: We finally got on the 22 Clark St. Bus, but we were waiting for a LONG time because the traffic was so screwed up with all the drunken debauchery in the way. We didn't go very far on the bus before we got off and tried to get on another bus, but it wasn't running anymore. I had to pee pretty badly at that point, too, and there was no public restroom available where we were waiting for the bus! I had enough money, so we decided to get a taxi.

Sean: We waited at least a half hour for the bus before we realized the bus we needed was not coming. I was trying to figure out another way to get home, when it comes to bus routes, but it wasn't really feasible by bus. We then started trying to call taxi companies we knew had accessible vehicles (Shari Lynne was in her power chair). When calling companies, they either were busy or they hung up on us after being on hold for a few minutes. We wasted time trying to call.

Shari Lynne: It was made worse, actually, because for some reason, when we called the number we thought would get us an accessible cab usually, a recording came on and said it was disconnected. Come to find out, the number was a direct line to a specific cab company, and when we tried it again later, it worked, but we still couldn't get through to anyone.

Sean: A guy named, Louis came by, and he asked if we were trying to get a cab. Of course, we were so he tried to hail one down for us.

Shari Lynne: It's amazing the number of both occupied and unoccupied cabs that ran off as he tried to get their attention. Most were not accessible but were in the forms of vans or SUVs so, it was harder to tell right away if they were accessible, so this caused some drama. I wish that any cab that had the capacity to be accessible was. Of course, I lived in Grand Rapids before this, so the concept of accessible cabs is new, in many ways, to me.It's interesting, too, when we finally got ahold of someone at a dispatch center who could help us get a cab, they claimed it's a busy night (being Devil's Night and Halloween was on a Sunday) so it'd take awhile. Meanwhile, there were like 150 cabs on the street, mostly cabs on the street, all passing us by, none of which were willing to radio into their dispatch centers to help us. They all just said to call the numbers on the side of their cabs, which were mostly busy.

Sean: Even some cab drivers with vacant taxis acted like we weren't there. I was amazed that Louis went to such lengths as to walking into traffic, talking to cab drivers, yelling at some of them to flag them down. He tried calling taxi companies himself. He was with us in the cold weather, trying to help us get a cab for at least 45 minutes.

Shari Lynne: He did see one accessible cab earlier, but when he tried to flag them down, turns out there were "three divas in the back" as he put it, and they refused to switch to one of the bazillion going down that road at the time, and got the driver to speed off, pointing out that the light was green.

Sean:  I was shocked when, finally, we saw another, occupied,  accessible van and Louis pull out his own money and offered to pay the passengers' fare so that we could use it. The first one, they said no and kept going. The second one, we thought said no, but they stopped after the cab turned. Louis ran over to the cab and found out that they had reconsidered.

Shari Lynne: Louis rode back to our side of the street, and I saw him trying to tip the taxi driver, I'm guessing since the other riders canceled their ride, but he refused it. Sean insisted on getting his number so that we can get him coffee or a drink or something to pay him back.

Sean: Yeah, I insisted that we pay him back somehow, whether it be buying him a drink, making him dinner, or even a pie. Something to say thank you considering he went to such great lengths to try to get us a cab when he didn't have to do anything!
He could have been apathetic like anyone else on the street like many, many drivers and dressed-up people that passed us by, but he decided to help and didn't give up until we had a ride home. I would say, a lot of the time, I'm a realist, and even very cynical at times, but I was shocked to know that a person would go to such great lengths to help complete strangers.

Shari Lynne: I noted, while we were still in the situation, there aren't that many people out there like him. When we spend so much time pleading, usually non-verbally, with people to empathize with us when someone else publicly ignores, humiliates, or violates our rights, it's easy to understand why what was just "doing the right thing" to Louis was amazing to us.

Sean: He went way above and beyond. I was almost speechless.