Midwest Ability Summit draws disabled to one-stop shop expo

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Midwest Ability Summit in Johnson County was a one-stop shop for people with disabilities who were hoping to connect with resources and one another. The event brought together products and services and also showed off new technology, adaptive sports demonstrations, and therapy services.

Organizer Erin Brown said, “It is a collaboration of many organizations here in the community that were each doing our own individual expos many years ago and decided to come together to do one big expo. It’s one place. They can look at wheelchairs if they need to look at wheelchairs, then they might look at an organization that provides care providers. I think this really highlights all of the things that people can do with the right equipment or the right tools.”

Susan Bird brought her five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, to the expo in search of a new hand bike. The kindergartner had her spinal cord removed after doctors found a tumor when she was just five-months-old. Since then, her mother said she’s grown into a bright, energetic young girl.

Susan said, “Elizabeth’s fantastic, we just have a lot of fun together. We’re going to check out hand cycles and go from the trike that she has to an actual cycle so we’re excited about that.

The event also showcased adaptive sports demonstrations, like quad rugby. It’s the fastest-growing wheelchair sport in the world, and thanks to Tony Durham, Kansas City has its own team.

He said, “I felt the need here and saw the need so I got a team together and got these guys together and it’s really taken off.”

Durham says the game is played four-on-four and anyone with at least three limbs with impairment is able to play.

“It’s a very intense workout for certainly your upper body but a lot of us have core impairment or leg impairment but even still you get a workout with them too. The chairs are designed to take most of the beating, so we save ourselves a little bit there,” said Durham.

The next steps for the team, KC Revolution, is to grow, raise money, play in tournaments, and eventually travel to play the 50 other quad rugby teams across the county.