KOSCIUSKO — While March is national Disability Awareness Month, Cardinal Services’ CEO, Randy Hall wants people to know that really, it is not about disability – but ability. There are things each of us can and cannot do, he points out. Cardinal’s mission is to help people find those things they can do, and then build on them. Nona is the perfect example.
As a child, Nona was fragile, but still able to walk. Then when she was about 16 years of age, she stopped. No one today is quite sure how it came to happen, but it did. Today, Nona is 72 years old and for all the years in between, she has been in a wheelchair.
An engaging and energetic woman, Nona participates in activities with the help of her Cardinal staff, Carlye DeLucenay. Last fall, they entered the annual Cardinal Services 5k, which Nona enjoyed so much that DeLucenay immediately began looking for other runs. In no time, Nona became a 5k regular. She’d use her toes to propel herself part of the time, and at others DeLucenay would run behind and push the chair.
To make participation easier, the women joined My Team Triumph, an organization that matches volunteers with people with disabilities who want to do races. Together they did 5ks, fun runs, and even half-marathons. They are registered to do the INDY MINI marathon in May.
As the women talked about the runs, a dream began to take shape: to walk across finish lines on her own, unassisted. To walk again. On her own. The goal was almost overwhelming in its power. Nona was inspired. At 72 years of age, she began daily training sessions to strengthen her legs and her core, and to improve her balance – and she made consistent progress. Standing on one foot. Getting up from her chair, unassisted. These were huge achievements. Then she started taking small steps and walking across her living room with help. She was ready for a walker.
Today, Nona is walking on her own with a walker. It has only been since January, but she gets stronger and better at walking each day, slowly but surely. A couple weeks ago at the Night to Shine dance, Nona stood up from her chair and danced. Yes, Nona has a disability, but it is her abilities that define her: her strength of spirit, determination, positive outlook, sense of humor, love of people – it’s a long list.