Where there's a wheel, there's a way
by John Bach
Student Sara Whitestone's stage got much bigger Oct. 23, 2012, when she had a chance to speak in front of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees about changing perceptions on campus.
Whitestone, a fresman in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, introduced the below video that has now been seen by thousands and, in her words, "opened so many doors to the support network on campus."
Sara explained that she came to UC to chase down a cure for her disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, but her talk with the board was to explain her drive to help other students with disabilities come to UC. At present, she said only six students at UC use mobility devices.
Whitestone's friends, family and even new UC president Santa Ono helped Sara purchase a $12,000 motor-assist wheelchair so she could maneuver UC's hilly campus. Now her goal is to raise money through Sara Spins for the next student's motor-assist chair. She has already identified another student, a freshman in the College of Design, Architecture, Art and, Planning.
Whitestone, with the help of Alpha Chi Rho and UC Disability Services, hosted an Ability Olympics fundraiser on campus at Gettler Stadium Oct. 28. Events included a wheelchair relay, sit volleyball and a mobility obstacle course.
Get more details on the Ability Olympics.
"We raised the money for me, and Sara Spins is not stopping," Whitestone told the Trustees. "Now we are raising money for other students with disabilities who will be able to afford technologies and the assistance they need to be able to be on campus.
"The students here have responded to this. They want to help. They want to make a difference. They want to make a change."
Making that change, Whitestone points out is largely about continuing strides toward accessibility, equality and inclusiveness.
"This campus is accessible," she says. "Disability services does an outstanding job making sure every issue is addressed. They put students first."
The Dayton resident explained she could have attended Wright State University, a far more flat campus.
"It would have been much easier for me to go there. But I chose to go to UC because UC has inspired me to not settle."