Sittin’ Sexy Part II

Jul 16, 2014
Tagged with: Sittin' Sexy Part II

I will always have some impairment in my right hand. Bowel and bladder issues, which I’ll address down the road, continue to be a heady annoyance from time to time. I do not have trunk control, which would be REALLY handy for a lot of things. What I did gain, however, was an in-depth understanding of the bias in legislation, the “right way” (re: WRONG) to address/ignore a person with a disability, and social norms that WE constantly face but that were hidden to me before. Having seen the “in-group/out-group” bias from both perspectives helped me to put together a pretty unique worldview and eased communication with/between able-bodied (“ABs”) and functionally impaired individuals alike. Although encouraged by my progress when finally discharged from rehab, I couldn’t help but think… “Yeah, that’s all well and good…but now what?”

After living at my mother’s for a year and REALLY learning/being forced to live with my new disability at an apartment of my own, the next mountain lay ahead: a return to my goal of attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

At this point, I resolved to take PERSONAL OWNERSHIP of my situation and made huge strides to put my life where I wanted it to be. I strove to be an excellent student, never missing a class or an opportunity to be involved in lecture discussion. I worked in the community more than before, volunteering all over campus and with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, serving on several disability related committees, and even becoming the housing liaison for people with disabilities (PWDs) in my dormitory complex. I was given a new chance to “remake” myself, an opportunity for people to see the “new” me without grounds for comparison to pre-SCI Daniel…and that he was a pretty cool guy to be around.

Re-prioritizing my school work paid off nicely, as I was awarded with a 3.8 GPA, given the Top 25 Outstanding Seniors award, and honored with several departmental recognitions. Not done, I went back to SIU for my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, earning a 3.9 and more honors. Today, I work as the Government Affairs Coordinator at Para-quad Center for Independent Living in St. Louis. I work directly with MO State Senators and Representatives, helping them to understand potential legislation, understand the needs of PWDs, learning and communicating what bills might mean to PWDs, and actively advocating for Disability Rights. Essentially I am a lobbyist, only, I get to keep my soul.

I have been a Quad/Wheelchair Rugby athlete for 3 years with the St. Louis Rugby Rams and absolutely LOVE it: having spent 2 years as a college football player and wrestler, chair rugby replaced the contact sports-shaped hole in my heart. Best sport ever, able-bodied or non! Rugby’s actually where I got my opportunity to blog: meeting at a Tampa tournament with Bob Lujano from Murderball (he’s not exactly famous-famous, but he IS wheelchair-famous), he, I and others expressed a common need for PWDs to have a voice about things beyond the normal, “safe”, and stereotypical scope of sexuality and relationships, something real and exciting to demonstrate that could demonstrate that PWDS ARE SEXUAL BEINGS TOO!

In addition to my sport, I also do paid sit-down comedy, and have done more than 70 shows combined in St. Louis and Southern Illinois. Disability-related issues aren’t my only go-to when I crack jokes, but authoritative ignorance and demeaning over political-correctness often are…and anyone who is/has been involved in the Disability Community knows that there’s plenty of those things worth brutally mocking. When not working, making with the funny, or pushing my rugby chair, I enjoy cooking, reading, immersing myself in nature, making and listening to live music, conversation with/getting to know good people, learning all I can, and of course…great sex. But you’ll hear all about that later, of course… 😉

Are there any topics I can lobby for you?  We’re all in this together.

NCHPAD articles:

http://www.nchpad.org/1175/5765/Wheelchair~Rugby

http://www.nchpad.org/1223/5876/A~Culture~of~Inclusion~in~Worksite~Wellness

http://www.nchpad.org/360/2050/Defining~Secondary~Conditions~for~People~with~Disabilities

http://www.nchpad.org/875/4980/Adoption~of~the~Revised~ADA~Standards~for~Accessible~Design~~What~it~Means~to~Recreation~Facilities

http://www.nchpad.org/87/640/Opening~Doors~~Why~Fitness~Facilities~Should~Make~Room~for~People~With~Disabilities

 

 

 

Author: Daniel Mellenthin



  • bobl07

    Thank you for the shout out! Keep up the good work with legislative activities. I look forward to seeing you on the court this season, maybe in Tampa again.