Some of you may have read my interview with Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, Pearl Gannon. Pearl is a great friend of mine who inspires me as she fights Charcot-Marie-Tooth, an illness that is under diagnosed despite the fact that it affects 1 in 2,500 people. Pearl helps people with a variety of disabilities and chronic illnesses.
Pearl wrote to me, “My platform for the year is positive mental health in the disabled population and educating society about disabilities (you know about all the stigmas and how it’s ‘all in our mind’ and such). I really want to travel throughout the state and not just stay in my area. It isn’t just the Chicagoland area that is affected by disabilities.”
Treating The Body And Mind
One of the most frustrating things in the way the media covers illness is that it’s so compartmentalized. Case in point: Robin Williams’ death. Everyone was talking about depression/bipolar awareness and mental health stigma–all of this is important. However, the man didn’t have one illness. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Before Parkinson’s, he had successfully dealt with an addiction, anxiety, and depression. Managing four diseases is different than managing one. There are people who live with mental illness and physical disabilities, pain, and fatigue. We cannot discuss mental illness in a vacuum. We need to discuss the patient’s whole health–mental health, physical pain, fatigue, and disabilities. As someone with bipolar disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis, and psoriasis, I’ve experienced the messiness of living with multiple illnesses. What I love about Pearl is that she gets it! Pearl knows that wellness requires treating mind and body.
In Need of a Disability-Accessible Van
Unfortunately, Pearl has a problem right now that is preventing her from fulfilling her platform during her tenure as Ms. Wheelchair Illinois. Her van broke down. Now, she needs a disability-accessible van so she can travel. I know from personal experience that having a disability is expensive. I’ll quote part of the letter Pearl wrote me,
I bring resources to people with disabilities about sports and support groups and work with them in various ways (groups, 1:1, trying sports out, etc.). My SUV doesn’t work at all anymore, so I’m stuck trying to push to the bus. The closest bus stops are three blocks away, which are hard to get to when you are in pain and the side walks are not exactly accessible. I have to pop the curbs and push in the street, with mostly no street lights at night. Also, the sidewalks have holes in them so I get stuck while pushing. Getting a wheelchair accessible vehicle is my only realistic option right now. I need to raise enough money to pay for the van and I’m having a very hard time doing so. If I don’t get this van, I can’t travel throughout the rest of the state that I am currently representing with my title. I have set up a fundraising page as well as selling t-shirts specifically made for me.
Any Help is Appreciated
People can donate at http://www.gofundme.com/wheelchairvan or directly on PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org because the site takes out almost 5% of what is donated. There are 17 days left to donate and so far, $870 have been raised (the goal is $15,000).
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
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