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Charity Begins at Home

I am writing this, my story, in order to provoke thought and conversation that may be useful in the future.

Currently aged 69, until age 67, I was in the highest percentile of fitness ranking for my age group. The photo shows what I looked like less than two years ago. In my background was the story of an elite/world-class level triathlete who qualified for and competed in three World Triathlon Championships.

With this past history, I was totally unprepared for what happened to me. After a lovely day of exercise on a shining summer day, I returned home and got into the elevator in my building. The elevator began to ascend and then lost electric power and fell. Instantly feeling a pain akin to a gunshot, I had to escape from the heated air in the elevator and managed to pry the door open and crawl out into what was a crawlspace between floors. The immediate result was that I had broken four lumbar vertebrae and in the following six months I would go on to have five surgical procedures.

Today, one and a half years later, I am paralyzed on my left lower side and have a residual continuing pain and spasticity, a well-described post spinal injury syndrome.

Due to these medical conditions, I have to tell you that my whole life was changed. Many of our activities, some of which I helped plan, were no longer possible for me. I slowly realized that I am a crippled person.

So what is a crippled person supposed to do in ESRA?

The answer is, as much as possible. I saw with my own eyes and realized for the first time that not all activities are accessible to me and to others with similar difficulties. As I stated in the beginning, my aim is to promote a conversation. Are we doing enough to accommodate people with disabilities? Are the activities appearing in the weekly ESRA calendars marked well enough to inform on participants' capabilities? I know that the more strenuous events have very good fitness guidelines. But do we use the wheelchair logo to indicate accessibility sufficiently so as to describe all events?

What ideas do you have on this topic? I titled this piece "Charity begins at home" simply to make it easier for future planning and to ask and look at our own disabled members. For me, these personal experiences have engendered a whole new perspective. For starters, I would suggest that one of our central committees, perhaps the volunteers' core group or someone else, take upon themselves to begin monitoring activities with the welfare of the disabled in mind.

Recently, our own chapter had an encounter with an individual who is blind and wheelchair confined and reached out for help in order to attend some of our activities in Nahariya. Over the past two years, two personal friends who are ESRA members have developed significant mobility issues associated with getting older. We have to adapt and take care of our people.

I invite you all to be imaginative and provide suggestions for improvements. Please contact me by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 050 709 571

Gabriel Mayer is the chairperson of ESRA's Nahariya / North Coast branch 



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Sunday, 21 July 2024

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