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Every Individual Contributes to Society in their Own Way

My family and a few friends recently participated in a beach clean-up on Miami Beach in celebration of World Ocean Day. It was a weekend long family event planned between The Blue Scholars Initiative, Faena Art and ARTsail. On the day we arrived, the focus was on a beach paddle out and the cleanup. I was able to participate in the paddle out as we were on kayak but when it came to the clean-up, I had to sit it out because of the difficulties of navigating a beach with MS. The clean-up took hours and I patiently sat there waiting for my group to return.

That’s why initially, this picture left me feeling like a fraud. To be completely transparent, I didn’t help pick up ANY trash at the event, so I didn’t feel like I belonged in the picture. However, when it came time to snap the picture, I was the only one from my group of eight that was around to represent. So naturally, when they rounded up people from the event I hobbled over. I spent a lot of time debating whether or not I wanted to publish this image because of my feelings. The more I thought about it, the more validated I felt in sharing this image and my thoughts.

You see, going to the beach is one of the hardest things for me to do. I absolutely love it and I never want to leave but I also respect my body as heat is the single most difficult challenge I face. I guess in simple terms the heat makes it much more difficult for messages to get from my brain to everywhere throughout my body. Walking, talking, making it to the bathroom, even just remembering where I parked could become an impossible task if I am in the heat for too long.

That said, I helped round up my group of eight and I sat there for five hours so they could help pick up 570 pounds of trash that day. They would have never felt the liberty to leave their things unattended for five hours while picking up trash and enjoying the waves. Once that thought sank in, I realized not only did I deserve to sit in on that picture, but I also felt empowered to share that every individual contributes in society in their own way. The contributions of the disabled population may look different, but they are as important as any other individual.

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