Hardy: DeGeneres’ ‘saucy optimism’ is tonic for courageous local woman

I have only been handicapped for the last two of my 54 years.

As my degenerative neuron disease of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) marches relentlessly forward, I’ve had to be a quick study in wheelchair restrictions and regulations. Blah! After a recent journey to California, though, I came back with an attitude: These wheels rock!

I received the trip through the Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for adults with life-limiting illnesses. My desire was to watch a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Her saucy optimism and humor is the perfect medicine for me.

My nurse-friend Stacie and friend Vicky began the process in April. After a flurry of paperwork, phone calls and months of waiting, my dream began to unfurl. We traveled to Cleveland, where I had to relinquish my wheelchair and attached computer — my arms, legs and voice. I can no longer speak after undergoing a tracheostomy in January. I communicate solely through my computer, where the cursor is moved by my eyes.

My wheelchair, worth a small car, was chucked beneath the plane while I was wheeled on with a chair designed to fit the narrow plane aisles. I silently blessed my 100-pound frame as airplane employees strapped me on to a seat barely a foot wide.

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