Long-Overdue Blog, Bowling, and Personal Update

I have not posted to this blog since October, 2018.

I am okay. I am alive! :-)

I started this blog to “empower wheelchair users” mostly by sharing that having a recreational outlet at which we can compete on a “level playing field” with able-bodied people, that is something that can promote feelings of independence, especially for power wheelchair users like me. Recreational therapists have said that can empower people and positively impact other areas of the wheelchair user’s life.

And with the development of the IKAN Bowler, legitimate bowling became possible for essentially all wheelchair users. So this blog was/is designed to spread the word.

Long story shorter, I helped develop the IKAN Bowler and have bowled 28 games of 200 or better, the first of which occurred on November 6, 2005, and has an interesting and improbable story to go with it (which I would like to share on my blog another time).

The reason I kind of let this blog get dusty is because we ran into inventory issues more than a year ago, and it did not make sense to actively promote something that had limited (at best) availability.

Fast-forward to about February 2020, and we have been attempting to partner with someone who is highly motivated to get bowling into the Paralympic Games. Further, it seems like there is a strong possibility that that will happen sooner than later. If that happens, we should be able to resolve our inventory issues one way or another, and get more people, especially power wheelchair users, bowling – some of whom could represent their country in the Paralympics! :-)

And now, in early April 2020, we are in the midst of a global pandemic with this COVID-19 coronavirus.

Obviously, wheelchair users are in the high risk category for people who may be hit hard by the virus. And life and death issues are clearly more important than bowling.

But eventually this world will return to some kind of normal, or new normal, and I see no reason why bowling cannot be a part of our future, once it is safe to do so again.

So the above plans and progress towards getting bowling into the Paralympics will keep going and, good Lord willing, will eventually happen.

That said, we have to survive this pandemic before we can see such goals come to fruition.

Since people might be understandably frightened by the thought that some of us might not survive, I wanted to share my personal thoughts regarding COVID-19, which is something I wrote and shared with my entire email list and Facebook friends:

HI ALL!

Some folks have inquired about my health, considering a global pandemic is not a friendly environment for me and my fellow quadriplegics, and other people in higher risk categories.

But, praise the Lord, right now I am doing well. I am basically self quarantined, but I do have caregivers coming and going, which is largely unavoidable. So there is still a fair chance of exposure for me, but of course we are trying to be even more conscientious about handwashing, sanitizing, etc. I am also thankful that my job is online, so I am still able to work as a teaching assistant without fear of contracting the virus.

I also like to think that I could fight off COVID-19 if I do get it, as I am thankful to be pretty healthy, and perhaps already being on a ventilator is an advantage? For one, I am breathing through three filters.

I do understand that COVID-19 is a serious issue in multiple ways, and we are taking precautions, but most people think of the worst case scenario as dying, and being Christian, I am not scared of dying and going to heaven. :-) That said, I am also in no hurry for that to happen.

You too can have the luxury of not fearing death, and the promise of heaven, if you choose to have “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” That’s called faith (Hebrews 11:1). I became Christian and had faith prior to becoming paralyzed in 1997, and at the time, my faith was largely based on the wholehearted, clearly evident conviction with which other people staunchly believed – people I admired and regarded as being both highly intelligent and more educated about biblical matters than me.

My faith was only strengthened after becoming paralyzed, when I nearly died during my first hospitalization. I have never been able to articulate it particularly well, but I was clearly given the choice to die and go to heaven right at that time, or stay on earth and figure out life as a quadriplegic on a ventilator. Obviously I chose the latter.

My point is that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that heaven is real. Which means God and the astonishing gift He gave us (John 3:16) are real. You can have that gift if you simply repent of your sins – none of us are perfect – and choose to accept the gift of Christ and salvation that God offers. You can choose to have faith, and believe that which you cannot see.

People wonder about how a loving God “can allow” bad things like COVID-19 to happen, as well as things like rape and murder. I cannot explain “why” bad things happen, but God does give us humans free will. Doing so comes with some unpleasant realities, at times, which can cause people to question God or even lose their faith. But I say in such times of adversity, that is precisely when we need our faith and God’s help the most. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What’s His purpose for us? In a nutshell, I believe it is to help people, or “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). That could be considered extra important during a global pandemic. Washing your hands and staying home as much as possible are good ways to help limit the spread of the virus and to help protect society’s most vulnerable people. In a general sense, simply being kind also helps people, which is something we can all do.

My faith also allows me to not worry, about COVID-19 or anything else, as the Bible says to pray and let God handle our issues. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This may seem long, but it is actually a relatively brief explanation for why I am not worried about COVID-19 (or anything else). But that doesn’t mean I/we are not also taking precautions, and trying to make wise choices with the free will God gives us.

Be safe everyone – and may God bless us all! <3

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
My blog: https://powerwheelchairusers.wordpress.com
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

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VIDEO: Quadriplegic converts 3-10 split for a chance at 26th game of 200 or better

This was the (my) shot of the day at Quad Squad bowling on August 11, 2018. I am posting it now to share and preserve it on my blog. I needed to convert this 3-10 split in the 10th frame in order to have a chance at 200. The pressure was on to make the shot, plus I knew I was being recorded. And as this video shows, I got it! :-)


After that, I needed seven pins with my last ball to bowl 200… and I got seven! :-)

Here is my scoresheet:

Bill Miller's 26th game of 200 or better

It’s my 26th game of 200 or better from my wheelchair with my IKAN Bowler®.

All glory to God! :-)

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Achievement, Disability, Enjoyment, Games, Health and wellness, Hobbies, Recreation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two New Members of the 200 Club, and Two New World Records

It’s a pretty big deal when able-bodied folks bowl 200 or better for the first time.

I’d argue it’s a bigger deal when a wheelchair user bowls 200+ for the first time. (For one, our ball speed is a good bit slower than most able-bodied bowlers, which results in less pin action and thus requires greater accuracy.)

Congratulations are in order for Alex Cossey (205) and Mike Murach (203) for becoming the 12th and 13th dynamic wheelchair bowlers to enter the 200 Club, to our knowledge. (Click HERE for a write-up on the 10th and 11th members, which lists the first nine also.)

Alex’s 205 came during league play on 11/26/2017. Alex has been a league bowler with family and friends for quite a few years, both before and after becoming a quadriplegic. Alex was, among other things, an accomplished bowler (and golfer) prior to his injury. The IKAN Bowler® has enabled Alex to continue bowling postinjury. Here is the league scoresheet with Alex’s 205:


click the image to enlarge

Mike’s 203 was bowled with friends and family on 3/11/2018. An added bonus for Mike is that he also became a category record holder, now having the top score for a wheelchair user who drives by head array control. He is also an IKAN Bowler® user, and the write-up sharing his category record is HERE.

Mike is not the only new category record holder.

Curt Wolff was one of the first nine members of the 200 Club, and he has worked to fine tune his bowling game for a number of years. The results were spectacular on 3/8/2018 as Curt bowled a whopping 253, which is the best game to date for a wheelchair user driving by joystick. Click HERE for details about Curt’s record.

I apologize for the delay in noting these accomplishments, but I wanted to officially recognize Alex, Mike, and Curt for their achievements… terrific bowling gentlemen! Congratulations! :-)

Like I said when I bowled my highest game (a 255 that I am still in disbelief over)… to God be the glory!

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Achievement, Disability, Health and wellness, Hobbies, Inspiration, Life | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

My 2017… the Year in Review

Hi everyone!

I thought I would share some of the more significant aspects of my 2017…

In January, I resumed working as a teaching assistant for entrepreneurship courses at Western Carolina University. It’s all online, and I appreciate the opportunity to try to make a positive impact on my students, while lightening the load on the entrepreneurship faculty. It’s a win-win, I think.

Also this spring, we started year-round, quarterly “IKAN Have Fun Bowling” Leagues online, which is free, just for fun and camaraderie. The idea is that wheelchair users and their family and friends can bowl locally, and can compete/share scores from anywhere in the world. So far, our participation numbers are a little light, but the folks who have partaken (I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before) have been happy about having this new platform to both compete and have fun. (I’m still collecting Q4 scores.)

On May 12, we lost my Grandpa Loren at the age of 92. He passed somewhat unexpectedly, but that could be considered a blessing, as he had quite a bit of pain on a daily basis for quite some time (i.e. years). Thankfully, he was able to accomplish one of his lifelong goals before passing… watching our beloved Chicago Cubs WIN THE WORLD SERIES! Yes, that actually happened.

Also in May, we lost my nursing coverage which had provided 40 hours per week for almost the entire time I have been paralyzed (I passed the 20 year mark in August). Thankfully, it was restored around the beginning of December, ending six months without coverage.

The good news is that, since we were without nursing coverage, we thought that was a great opportunity to take a road trip to Chicago and see our Cubs play at Wrigley Field. That is kind of a bucket list item that I had for my postinjury experiences. So we planned a trip to see the Tampa Rays vs. the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 5. I’m sure Grandpa was in attendance with us, albeit from a better vantage point.

Bill and Harry Caray statue

Although the trip was initially planned so that we could see the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and to visit with my brother and eat at Quartino, a highly regarded Italian restaurant where he is a manager… we also planned it so that I could visit a fellow quadriplegic friend and his family on the way up (we needed to stop for the night anyway, so it was a timely opportunity) and to visit several patients at Shepherd Center (where I did my rehab 20 years ago) on our way back. Altogether, it was an excellent trip.

At the end of July and beginning of August, I was hospitalized for nine days. It was just my third hospitalization in the (roughly) two decades that I have been paralyzed from the neck down and ventilator dependent (I thank the Lord for my relative good health, despite paralysis). I had some infection requiring prolonged IV antibiotics, and also some unusual “total body swelling” that ultimately was attributed to low protein absorption. My heart, kidneys, and basically every test that they could run from the hospital came back fine. My layperson understanding is that my body felt it was too low on protein, so it started taking protein from my cells, which resulted in fluid being released into my tissues, hence the swelling.

That hospitalization occurred just before I was given the opportunity to be the “instructor of record” for an undergraduate entrepreneurship course at Western Carolina. Even though I’ve worked several semesters as a teaching assistant, being wholly responsible for the course was a bit of an eye-opening challenge. (Among other things, I learned that trying to convert a course from an on-campus format to an online format is particularly difficult when you are not the original syllabus author or course designer… but I did my best, under the circumstances.) Ultimately, I thought the course turned out pretty well, even though I am probably my own toughest critic. We shall see what the future holds, regarding my efforts to help educate entrepreneurship students.

In October, I spoke with roughly 300 middle and high school students at First Academy. My longtime friend Clint Patterson works there teaching Bible classes, and he asked me to be his guest speaker for morning Chapel, to share my story and my faith with the students. It had been a while since I had done a speaking engagement, as I’m a little hesitant due to not being able to speak as well on my current ventilator as compared with my original ventilator. But, I’ve been told that having to pause more than I would like (as the ventilator catches up) makes me a bit more dramatic, and Clint said the students were the quietest he has seen, as they really seemed to be paying attention to what I was sharing. So that was nice.

Something that was originally planned for October was the fourth annual bowl-a-thon fundraiser for my longtime friend and fellow quadriplegic Rhonda Reese, to help keep her out of a nursing home. That plan was altered by some crazy hurricane (Irma) that came through in September, as we did not feel the timing was right for such a fundraiser with folks needing to recover from the hurricane damage. (Thankfully, most everyone I know in central Florida was relatively unscathed by the hurricane, my family included, praise the Lord!)

The good news is that Rhonda now has full coverage provided by a combination of assistance programs (all of which are still less expensive for taxpayers than a nursing home) however, 24/7 coverage can be difficult for agencies to staff. That forces Rhonda to rely on a small team of caregivers which she has to pay out-of-pocket. So that’s why we are now planning a bowl-a-thon for February 10, 2018.

Speaking of Quad Squad bowling… Claude Giguere is one of the main folks responsible for bowling being possible – and fun – for all types of wheelchair users, even high-level quadriplegics like me. Claude is the inventor of what is now known as the IKAN Bowler® (I am generously credited with co-inventing it) and he put together a Museum-like display to kind of share the evolution from the wooden prototype he built to the precision product we bowl with today. One of the two regular places at which our Central Florida group bowls, AMF Leesburg Lanes, is now displaying our history for all to see, and we are thankful for them giving our display a home.

Those are some of the more noteworthy aspects of my 2017, but obviously not everything (my apologies if I didn’t include something involving you). For the record, I do try to be “present” with whomever I’m with, and to enjoy their company and each day… whatever it may bring.

May the new year (2018) bring you health and the ability to see the positive in essentially all situations (that’s one way to think about the choice to be happy)… God bless!

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
My blog: https://powerwheelchairusers.wordpress.com
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Achievement, Disability, Enjoyment, Health and wellness, Life | 2 Comments

Wheelchair (Quadriplegic) Bowling Historical Display…

Power wheelchair users like me would (likely) not be able to bowl if several folks had not decided to make it possible.

Claude Giguere is one of the main folks who decided to make bowling possible – and fun – for all types of wheelchair users, even high-level quadriplegics like me. Claude is the inventor of what is now known as the IKAN Bowler® (I am generously credited with co-inventing it) and he put together a Museum-like display to kind of share the evolution from the wooden prototype he built to the precision product we bowl with today. One of the two regular places at which our Central Florida group bowls, AMF Leesburg Lanes, is now displaying our history for all to see, and we are thankful for them giving our display a home.

We took some pictures from the “unveiling” of the display to our Quad Squad group.

GALLERY:

Thank you to Claude and everyone who has helped to make bowling possible AND FUN for all!

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
My blog: https://powerwheelchairusers.wordpress.com
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Achievement, Disability, Enjoyment, Health and wellness, Life | Leave a comment

Fourth Annual Bowl-A-Thon to Help Keep a Quadriplegic Out of a Nursing Home

Hi all!

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, we are having the fourth annual bowl-a-thon to help keep my dear friend and fellow quadriplegic Rhonda Reese out of a nursing home.

It is actually the fourth annual bowl-a-thon – but in five years!

That is possible, because I can report GOOD NEWS! Rhonda now has 24/7 care through a combination of assistance programs, because she is paralyzed from the chest down and lost both her parents in 2012, and also it’s cheaper for taxpayers if Rhonda is able to stay in a community setting and in her apartment. And because of the coverage, Rhonda can stretch dollars farther (and we did not need to do a bowl-a-thon fundraiser in 2017).

But there is a drawback to having 24/7 coverage… believe it or not, the shifts can be difficult to cover (likely due to a shortage of CNAs) and when a shift is uncovered, or somebody does not show up, Rhonda has to rely on and pay her small team of caregivers out of pocket.

That’s why we need to have another bowl-a-thon.

All the details and support materials are here:

http://www.lookmomnohands.net/Rhonda.htm

We are grateful for all shares, prayers, participants, and pledges/donations in support! And may God bless us all!

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
My blog: https://powerwheelchairusers.wordpress.com
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Disability, Health and wellness, Life, philanthropy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Bowling Record for Wheelchair Users Driving by Head Control

Did you know that we keep wheelchair bowling records for people who fit in different categories? We do!

The IKAN Bowler® enables all types of wheelchair users to be able to bowl, and we have been tracking the records at WheelchairBowlingRecords.com.

Kenny Salvini just broke the record for a male wheelchair user driving by head array control.

Details – including a video clip of the final shot – are HERE!

I also gave a little insight into Kenny and some of his endeavors at the above link.

Keep up the excellent work Kenny!

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
My blog: https://powerwheelchairusers.wordpress.com
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Posted in Achievement, Disability, Health and wellness, Life | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment