I attended my first Abilities Expo in 2005 in Northern California, which used to be one of their larger expos. I was just starting out at VMI and getting my feet wet with this industry, so I found the expo to be a invaluble experience. Here we are, three years later, and I vow to never miss another Abilities Expo.
The Abilies Expo has been around for 25 years, and it has changed over management a few times during this tenure. Years ago, there used to be 7 shows within a given year, all around the country. Last year, there was only 3 expos, which I felt was not nearly enough. This year, under new management, they have expanded to 4 expos and two new venues, Chicago and Atlanta.
For anyone who has never heard of the Abilities Expo or has never attended, I highly recommend that you try to attend one. Even if you are not disabled or do not know someone who is disabled, it is an eye opening experience into the world that which able bodied people are clueless. I have been to almost 10 expos and I learn something new at every show. I also get the chance to meet people who inspire me and motivate me in the most amazing ways. Every single person at these expos has had to overcome some adversity, struggle, depression, etc. and they continue to press on and make the most out of everyday.
At the Abilities Expo is just about anything you can imagine that has to do with disabilities. There is everything there from lawyers and advocacy groups to wheelchair accessible vans and mobility solutions. I liken it to a “one stop shop”. Its a great experience for anyone, but especially for someone who is recently injured or recently disabled. Last year at the Minnesota Expo and met a couple. The husband was recently injured and the wife was clearly distraught. She was looking some of the VMI wheelchair vans and I asked her what she was looking for and she broke down and said, “I have no idea. We don’t know where to start, where to go”. Well, as traumatic as her husband’s recent injury was, they were at the right place. We sat down and I told her about a local Mobility Equipment Dealer who could meet with them and show them all the different options for wheelchair vans. I gave her their card and we set up an appointment for the following week. She was put at ease and got to see that it wasn’t as overwhelming as she once thought.
Here are the dates for the 2009 Abilities Expos:
Edison, NJ – April 17-19, 2009
Anaheim, CA – May 29-31, 2009
Chicago, IL – June 25-27, 2009
Atlanta, GA – November 5-7, 2009
Hope to see you there!