Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

handicapped dog
handicapped dog

Disabled Abilities

Special Olympics

October 5 1983

Dear Meg,

I see articles in the newspaper about Special Olympics, but I'm afraid to volunteer. Have you ever been to a Special Olympics event?

Dear Chicken Hearted,

Why are you afraid to volunteer at a Special Olympics event? All you can catch is enthusiasm so don't be silly! Not only have I been to see these athlete's goings-on before, but I have been an active volunteer at the games for the last two years straight and was given to very distinct honor of actually being asked to present medals to some of the winners.

There really aren't any restrictions involved. Anyone is able to volunteer and find themselves quite busy as soon as they do. There are a million little and big things to be done behind the scenes and in front throughout a very long but so rewarding weekend. Do anything from directing traffic to putting hamburgers into those styrofoam containers with Ronald at the McDonald's tent on the lunchtime scramble Go from selling ice cream bars to the spectators to being a companion-escort for a special athlete as they go from one event to another. But the most sought after jobs are those of huggers – A hugger is a lucky soul who waits behind the finish line with a bunch of other huggers and standing in full view of their athletes – proceed to jump around and cheer their competitors on like a pack of screaming maniacs with their arms outstretched and readied to wrap their champions up in a tight bear hug and slap the biggest wettest kiss on those proud and excited laughing faces, one by one, as they make it across the end.

The feeling is really indescribable in words alone and it's absolutely infectious. Once you've been there you got the fever.

At first I will admit to having had my own hidden reservations that the whole idea of a Special Olympics as some do about the Jerry Lewis Telethons thinking they were strictly hyped-up patronizing displays. That was before I understood. That was before I'd been there to witness "the achievement" with my own spirit. Watching is more than a visual recording of your eyes and mind, it is an emotional experience that sets your insides to somersaulting. Every single participant is a winner in these games and to fully understand why you have to see for yourself the grueling determination on a young man's face as he sweats and strains his muscles as best he can to simply move his body a few feet along the floor so as to reach the pull cord that rings the bell signaling he'd done it! I used the word "simply" because moving those 3 feet for me is so easy that the significance of the act doesn't register but every inch was a struggle for this young guy in a battle against his body. A battle that he and the guys struggling on the floor next to him had trained for! It was then that the realization struck me. Those people were athletes and they were into pushing their bodies to the physical limits as in every other sports fanatic and they were just as deserving of the title. To have helped them out by putting the bell and cord closer would have been an insult. They had each trained hard and had come to see who was the fastest – this was "their event!"

Is is amazing how exciting it is. They are so proud of themselves and what they have done. You'll find yourself choking on "the thrill of victory" as you are screaming your head off in celebration. These are the ultimate good sports because fast or slow every participant is a unique winner by their own merits. They show the rest of the world that it truly is not whether you win or lose it's how you play the game - with all your heart!

International Games For The Disabled

March 7 1984

Dear Readers,

Of course we always have the Special Olympics which my friends and I look forward to working every year during June, at Fairfield University. And… word is out that Rotary Wheels V is going to the "International games for the disabled" on June 23. The Rotarians of the District are quite excited about it all because this year the events are being held in the U.S.! Where? Just across the sound from us in Long Island!

The Rotary clubs of District 790 put together a trip to these International games for the Disabled in Long Island for both physically disabled and able-bodied persons who would like the chance to go along. The only expenses to the participants maybe for meals plus any souvenirs. (Rotarians and their families may participate in this program).

As an applicant you'll have the opportunity to observe the games which have the following goals:

  1. To bring together, for the first time in America world-class amputee, blind, cerebral palsy and "Les Autres" athletes representing over 60 nations in a variety of Olympic athlete events.
  2. To increase awareness and encourage the expansion of lifetime fitness for the disabled throughout the U.S.
  3. to establish a unified National Disabled Sports Foundation to develop and promote international, national and local competitive sports programs for all disability groups.
  4. To provide a unique learning environment for students, teachers, practitioners in the fields of therapeutic recreation sports medicine, adapted physical education and special education.

I went to England for Rotary Wheels IV back in 1983 and it was a trip that I will always remember because of the great people we met and your friends we made while in training here and put in action abroad.

There are special events going on all the time in our own country and seems a shame to miss out on any of them. So we're going to try not to! Working together we can eventually, make the world accessible. In the meantime, working together we can help each other over and around obstacles in our way until that great day of "Freedom through accessibility" finally arrives. There really is a good time to be had by all out there and we should not have to wait for it!

Handicapped Basketball

April 13 1983

On April 29 1983 Foran High School held a double header basketball game sponsored by the M.I.D.P. and the Milford Lions Club featured two wheelchair basketball teams.

It is an inspirational and educational event which should be experienced by children and grown-ups alike. Hope to see you there!

Run Jeff Run

April 3 1985

Meg's column often was printed next to other handicapped issues articles published not written by Meg. One was "'Run, Jeff, Run': Amputee Takes Off" to raise money for a cross country run by Jeff Keith using his artificial legs.

George Murray
Wheaties Athlete George Murray

Disabled Athletes On Wheaties

May 11 1983

Dear Meg,

How come there aren't any disabled athletes on the Wheaties boxes?


Dear Carol,

You know, at first this question struck me very funny, and I left myself a bit silly over it. But I have since been made to realize that you're serious. There really is a Wheaties Search for Champions contest, and with enough votes for disabled athlete, we could pull it off!

I want to thank you for bringing this to my attention (though this very pointless question … and for sharing the biographical information with my readers about George Murray. During 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons, George and fellow wheelchair athlete, Phil Carpenter, pushed across the continental U.S. and its first historical crossing of America by an arm powered wheelchair – Los Angeles to the United Nations, in New York City.

George has not only been involved in wheelchair sports but works actively as a lecturer and advocate for the education of the public ABILITIES of the disabled community. He serves as narrator and adviser on the University of Florida's federally funded, 14 part series on public law 94–142: PROJECT I'M SPECIAL.

Actively promoting physical fitness for everyone INCLUDING the disabled, George is a well respected and accomplished athlete.

In addition he has been:

Racer's Club, Inc. is soliciting votes and support for their nominee in the Wheaties Search for Champions George Murray, world-famous marathoner and road racer. (They need your vote!)

Of course, there is a catch. In order to cast your ballot for George you must buy a specially-marked box of this particular brand of cereal for an "official ballot." Vote as many times as you like. One ballot per box; One vote per ballot. You know, I met George when he wheeled into Milford that year. He's kind of cute. Funny thing … I've suddenly got a craving for Wheaties …

George Murray
ballot for athlete on Wheaties box

Handicapped Pets

October 19 1983

O.K. Readers, here's one for you:

Isn't there anyone in this world who would want to adopt a handicapped cat?

Several weeks ago a little black cat with a severe limp was found making its way up my driveway (Naturally!) A new neighbor of mine was on her way home from work and became curious about the animal as she watched it enter the courtyard between our two houses.

Upon closer observation she saw that it had been literally dragging it's hind leg and was in pain. Apparently, the cat had been struck by a motor vehicle sustained a broken hind leg. It then dragged itself off somewhere. We are uncertain how long it had been between the time of the injury and time it wandered into our yard, but there may have been a few days lapse.

Although it has not been seen by a vet the neighbor who found the cat is an L.P.N. and wrapped the leg as best she could and has been taking care of it until someone claims it or we can find in new home. No one in the area seems know that cat or its history.

The cat itself doesn't seem inclined to remember either, but the marked difference between the bony creature that first arrived and the mewing patient on my doorstep every morning could be a clue someone has been feeding this little beast, and he likes it around here.

Don't bother saying "Where else would a handicapped go? It reads your column," because that is all I've been getting and I don't want to hear it. The cat has got to go! I have a reaction to cats (called Keep'ematadistance). My neighbor can't keep it so – we are rapidly running out of pleasant alternatives as time flies.

Unfortunately, It is getting much cooler at night and the winds off the beach will compound the coldness of the temperature too much for the cat to be kept outside much longer.

Wouldn't you love a cute little handicapped black kitty cat? The limp may go away once the leg heals. If so, call me. Please ( … or else … the first one who says "Trick-or-treat" to me gets it!).

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photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper