Local Hero Celebrations
After being announced as the Local Hero Winners for National Mobility Awareness Month, Abigail Carter, Jeff Scott and Steve Herbst were each awarded a customized Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle with family, friends, sponsors and the media there to help celebrate.
Abigail Carter has been in a wheelchair for close to 30 years. Despite that, she works at the Lexington Rescue Mission and helps people who are struggling in poverty.
On April 11, 2010, Jeff lost his independence. When he woke up from a life altering snowboard accident, his able body and independent life became a memory and a pipe dream. After the swelling from his fractured C1 vertebrae set in, he could not even breathe on his own. The unforeseen question about independence became his reality.
What would you do for your independence?
At the age of 25, I did not know what I would have done for mine. I was on top of the world and felt untouchable. On April 11, 2010, everything changed. When I woke up from that life altering snowboard accident, my able body and independent life became a memory and a pipe dream. After the swelling from my fractured C1 vertebrae set in, I could not even breathe on my own. The unforeseen question about independence became my reality.
After a year of surgeries, ongoing medical treatment and physical therapy, I rolled myself back into the real world. Thankfully, function returned to my C5 level where my next major injury was. More options for independence presented themselves with partial use of my arms and wrists. I became inspired to combine my quest for independence with my sense of adventure. Upon release from rehabilitation, I dipped my wheels into the Pacific Ocean and I drove with my team to a little rock called Newfoundland.
This adventure of a lifetime came with daily challenges that would never before have been noticed. My power wheelchair broke down and had to be left in Quebec and shipped to BC at a later date, accessibility issues brought out the best in my problem solving and my 1993 van broke down several times. Nevertheless, the adventures and experiences far outweighed the hardships.
This trip gave birth to the Live It Love It Foundation (LILI) where we empower individuals through adaptive adventure. It became apparent to me how important it is to find the edge of your comfort zone and challenge it.
Our 2 1/2 year old, non-profit organization, has been able to realize the dreams of many individuals with disabilities. Our adventure camps host physically challenged and provide opportunities to go rock climbing, kayaking, hand cycling, zip lining, gliding and bungee jumping. All these adventures happen over 3 – 5 days amongst motivational speakers and peers at no cost to the participants.
As Director of LILI, I believe in representing this cause. I actively raise awareness, addressing the public and schools, provide interviews with TV and radio programs to facilitate independence and adventure for others. I chair our directors meetings to bring our motto to life.
The thought of a new, reliable van would allow me to gain my independence as a driver and allow me to further impact the lives of others.
Lifetime Palatine, IL resident Steve Herbst’s story of resilience is fascinating and inspirational. Steve was paralyzed after being tackled in 1980 while playing football at Palatine High School. He severed his spinal cord at the C5/6 level and became a quadriplegic.
Lifetime Palatine, IL resident Steve Herbst’s story of resilience is fascinating and inspirational. Steve was paralyzed after being tackled in 1980 while playing football at Palatine High School. He severed his spinal cord at the C5/6 level and became a quadriplegic. He vowed to persevere and graduated from high school in the top 10% of his class in 4 years: a significant accomplishment given that he spent 6 months of the year in the Rehab Institute of Chicago. He graduated with honors from the University of Illinois and entered the workforce, starting as a Business Analyst with Kemper Insurance. He works now as a Manager in Technology for Allstate Insurance. He truly sees himself as blessed, now married to his wife Sue, with their twin children, Jack and Grace.
Thousands in his community look to Steve as a local hero. Aside from his full time job, Steve has been a committed civil servant ever since his injury. He has served the youth of his community through coaching basketball for over 20 years, baseball for 9 years, and serving as the youth committee chairman for Vision in Progress, an organization to improve the lives of those living in his community. He has served on the Palatine Beautification Commission, for over 10 years, and is a founding member of the Gridiron Alliance, a not for profit organization seeking to improve the lives of catastrophically injured youth athletes. Steve serves on its Board of Directors as Treasurer. He has also had numerous motivational speaking engagements. Steve has coached his kid’s basketball teams and his son’s flag football team. His coaching allows him to teach and share the lessons he’s learned about positive attitude, perseverance, and work ethic. Steve believes that we are on this earth to help others, and he has dedicated his life to that despite needing to attend to his own situation. Steve’s motto: “Life is 10% what happens to a person, and $90% of how one chooses to react and respond. I really believe that and choose to live by that ethic.”
Unfortunately, his disability has progressed prohibiting him from driving using his current hand controls. A new van, outfitted with the controls that are necessary, will keep Steve active in his community helping improve the lives of others.
Thank you to our sponsors Chrysler, Toyota, BraunAbility, VMI, SanTan Honda and everyone who voted and participated in National Mobility Awareness Month. We are celebrating National Mobility Awareness Month in 2013 and hope to make a bigger impact across the U.S. and Canada.