Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vote for Wally!

I am really excited to tell you about the first children's book in my friend Marty's series, "The Adventures of Wally the Wheelchair," and I've decided it is high time I share that excitement with you!

The author, Marty, is a long-time friend of mine who has been a role-model for me. He has Spina Bifida, and uses a manual chair to get around. I look up to him because he has always been a trail-blazer for handi-capability in our community - he was one of the first students with a disability to attend a Forsyth County public school (Parkland), he is very athletic and has played many sports like tennis, basketball, and bowling, he coaches pee-wee teams and was a department store security guard for many years. Beyond his abilities and successes, Marty has a contagious optimism and love for life, a great sense of humor, and a solid sense of purpose and hope. He lives life to the fullest with his wife, Angela, and his daughter, Sarah, in Arcadia, NC.

The little boy in Marty's book is named Timmy, and the story of Timmy is really the story of Marty. Wally is a children's wheelchair, inspired by Marty's first wheelchair, and the experiences that Timmy and Wally have - for better or worse - are very much like the experiences Marty and his wheelchairs have had... and the experience many kids with disabilities have. These stories are positive and up-beat, funny and adventurous, and are meant to inspire and encourage kids with disabilities in a way no children's book has done before.

Timmy, the main character, is a little boy who cannot walk (his specific disability is not labeled), and his best friend is the wheelchair that helps him do all the things he cannot do alone. Because they have each other, the world is not a frightening and limited place anymore, but one grand adventure.

Aren't they cute?! My brother, Andrew Chandler, is doing the artwork for the book, so look for more great illustrations to come!
Not only will it benefit children with disabilities, but it will also help families who are trying to figure out how to do life with a disability - what things need to change, what obstacles need to be hurdled, what opportunities need to be sought out, what assistance needs to be fought for, and what things need to stay as close to "normal" as possible. It can also be a great tool to use with able-bodied children who meet peers with disabilities and have lots of questions.
Marty and I feel strongly that this is a much-needed resource that we would like to market to families, special needs schools, children's hospitals, summer camps, and wheelchair manufacturers. In order to make this dream come true, Marty submitted his idea to the "Pepsi Refresh Grant," which accepts 1,000 proposals each month for things that average people want to do to have a positive impact. But only 10 each month get accepted for grant funding! So we need you to vote for his idea, so it can have a better chance of being one of those 10. All you gotta do is click on the "Vote for this idea" button on the right panel of my blog.
Thanks so much for your support! We'll keep you all updated on this exciting project!

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