Funding: It’s worth talking about

Stephanie Deible

Funding. It’s a big issue for most us on campus. It’s not uncommon to see people pinching their pennies after buying the textbooks they need to make it through the semester. For many disability-related organizations, though, pinching pennies has a whole new dynamic.

A number of the programs put in place to help people with disabilities experience some of life’s simplest activities such as playing sports or even gaining access to educational opportunities are provided by nonprofit organizations and numerous volunteers.
This past weekend was the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon. The telethon, which was titled the MDA Show of Strength, was used to raise funds and awareness for people with various muscle diseases.

MDA is the nonprofit organization dedicated to curing Muscular Dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other related diseases that often cause weakness or loss of muscle tissue. Beyond the research, the Association provides people with neuromuscular conditions assistance when they are in need of medical equipment and it also puts on a summer camp for children affected by these diseases.

Sitting there watching a telethon full of musical entertainment from stars like Carrie Underwood coupled with stories from people who are directly affected by Muscular Dystrophy and other related diseases was a roller coaster ride full of emotions.
On one hand, I was elated because the Show of Strength gave society the opportunity to see people with disabilities who are intelligent and accomplished individuals.

However, it was also tough to watch because I see how important it is for people with disabilities to experience things like summer camp yet, somehow, finding programs like this is often a challenge.
A week-long camp may appear to be a simple thing to most of us in college, but it’s not. It allows kids time to just be a kid and take the focus off any medical challenges they may be facing, build friendships and learn.

As Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2012 my goal is to help others with disabilities turn their dreams into goals and, frankly, that would not be possible without disability-related organizations.
Over the course of my reign, I have worked with various nonprofit organizations such as Think Beyond the Chair, Disability Connection of West Michigan and Alternatives in Motion to help people with disabilities gain resources and build connections. It is those resources and connections that make setting and achieving goals a possibility.

I know every group, company and organization is going through or has experienced some sort of financial struggle. However, knowing so many people with disabilities wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity to go to summer camp, the beach, play sports, or even gain access to the medical supplies they need without these organizations makes it an issue worth talking about.

Like many of us, I wish money grew on trees. Not because I want a fancy car, but because there will always be a dire need for financial support and volunteers for organizations like the MDA.
Until then, I’ll keep plugging along trying to spread awareness and give the next generation of people with disabilities more opportunities.

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**Read Stephanie’s blog, Beyond the Chair, at