Improving the quality of life with educational and recreational opportunities for individuals with spinal cord injuries.
United Spinal Association of Northeast Ohio > BLOG > Chapter Development > StrongWheeled Together Conference Recap

Megan Hammond Nechols

United Spinal’s #StrongWheeled Together campaign is fueled by people power: when our members and partners join forces, we are unstoppable! The campaign showcases the strength of our community when it comes together to achieve goals, demonstrates how United Spinal’s resources and support empower us to live the lives we choose, and raises public awareness of the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion in helping people with disabilities discover greater independence. The campaign spotlights previously untold stories about children, parents, couples, and veterans with SCI/D, as well as parents and caregivers of people with SCI/D and service dogs. It centers on initiatives around mental health and wellness, fitness and athletics, and emergency preparedness.

United Spinal’s StrongWheeled Together Conference brought together members, chapter leaders, clinicians, and corporate partners from across the country. The three-day event in Las Vegas offered opportunities that inspired connection, learning, and action by asking the attendees to participate in brainstorming sessions and Q&A opportunities.  

The event kicked off with everyone together at the Welcome Reception.  With as many Hors d’oeuvres as you can eat, we reconnected with old friends, met new friends, and talked about what each chapter has been up to in the past year.  The next day was a full day.  We had keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and whole group sessions.

After the first full day, it was time for the StrongWheeled Together Dinner Awards.  In six different categories, the winners were nominated and selected by members across the country.  The categories are Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Performing Arts, Sports and Recreation, Visual Arts, Writing, and Youth Leadership.

The last day brought members and clinicians together to brainstorm ideas on how we can improve the quality of care for our community.  Identifying physical and emotional barriers, different ideas were brought to light to improve a better care experience for the disability community based on health equity principles. A couple of ideas included universal access to improve physical accessibility and training for all hospital/facility staff on how to interact with individuals with disabilities.

This is the event I look forward to the most all year.  The energy of the room is enough to reignite my passion for serving this community and I’m always recharged and ready to go after this event.  Plus, I get to see friends, explore a fun town, and experience things that just aren’t here in Ohio.  

If you have a passion for serving our community, reach out to the United Spinal Association Northeast Ohio Chapter at Check out our Chapter Update in this issue to learn the latest and for more information on what we do.  We are always looking for driven individuals that aim to serve.  Who knows, it could be you traveling to Las Vegas for this conference next year!

Meet the Winners

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Ryan Gebauer

Ryan is the owner of Ryan Realty Group, a real estate sales instructor and a dedicated volunteer and accessible housing advocate in his community. Thanks to him, people from our community are breaking into real estate like never before.

Performing Arts: King Khazm

When he’s not on the road touring, King Khazm is the Executive Director of 206 Universal, a Commissioner in the Seattle Disability Commission and a board member of the Here and Now Project, among numerous other commitments to hip hop and the disability community.

Sports and Recreation: Arthur Renowitzky

Arthur is the Executive Director and a co-founder of the Life Goes On Foundation and plays guard for the Golden State Road Warriors, who won the national championship in the  National Wheelchair Basketball Association this past year.

Visual Arts: Xi Nan

Xi has exhibited her performance art and sculpture worldwide, including at the Venice Biennial, and participates in numerous nonprofit and philanthropic initiatives to lift up other artists with disabilities.

Writing: Anja Herrman

Anja has been published by the Reeve Foundation, Teen Vogue and the Huffington Post, and was part of the inaugural class of EmpowHer Camp, prompting her to write a groundbreaking paper on school districts and students with disabilities during school shootings.

Youth Leadership: Giana Bisnett

Giana is a young disability advocate who successfully persuaded her school district to purchase Evac-Chairs for its students with disabilities. She is now working to replicate her work and spread her message about disability rights and emergency preparedness around the nation.

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