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Being In Charge

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Check out the Arclight Magazine article about my first book project


Somehow I manage to get by in this rotten (not when I am happy) life of mine. I am happy sometimes; usually when I'm in charge of my life. Not in charge of others or everyone else's life, but my life. I know this sounds strange, but I used to believe (and sometimes still fall back into believing) that living the good life means being in charge, or at least being involved in everything.

I used to do (we're talking post-accident) everything I possibly could. Go to every HI support group meeting, volunteer at as many different agencies I could, attempt to get the Nyack YMCA to become accessible to the handicapped (this has not come to fruition -- as of yet), going to the Y and working out on their super nautilus machines -- three times a week -- it usually ends up being more like twice a week -- you see, I have a very busy schedule -- time to go off on a tangent.

I went to the director of the Y (no names) one day and asked if she would like to start a project of trying to get the Y to become accessible to the handicapped with me. She liked my idea and made an agreement with me that if I drafted a letter and got the names of people to send the letters to, the Y would be willing to pay for the postage on the letters.

At that time, I wasn't really doing much (my weeks consisted of volunteering at the Independent Living Center three times a week, going to the gym three times a week and doing odd jobs at home -- raking leaves, shoveling snow, doing anything to keep busy.) I drafted the letter and got it typed up. Got the names and addresses from a friend who worked for the Office of the Handicapped. The Y paid for the mailing. We stuffed the letters and ended up sending out about two hundred letters.

Over the next three or four months, I was given my own mailbox at the Y -- I felt very important. In total, I got back only about thirty five responses -- they say that's what to expect when one is doing a survey. Life went on as normal. Gradually, I lost my own mailbox and the hype of my idea died down.

About this time I had the need for another idea to keep up and continue my feeling of importance. So, next I called up an acquaintance of mine, who also works out at the Y and at a local TV station. I asked him what he thought of my idea of him bringing his camera crew down to the Y and doing a little piece about the need for the Y to become accessible for those with disabilities. He liked my idea and I had another thing in my life to keep me busy (I was pleased.)

About the Fourth of July of 1990, the TKR camera crew and my friend, the announcer, came to the Y and shot my little infomercial. What a great experience.

Members were buzzing around the lobby checking out the activities (no requests for my autograph, I regret to say). We shot the show in about an hour -- the final product came out to be five minutes of air time. Not quite what I had imagined, I was hoping to get a half-hour of coverage. I was only about a half-hour off.

Check out the Arclight Magazine article about my first book project

Dan Windheim

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