Living With A Disability - Arthur Renowitzky Interview
Note: This is an old interview so the interviewee has either gotten older, married, name or career change, and has children.
UM: What is your name?
Arthur: Arthur Renowitzky
UM: How old are you?
UM: Where are you from? (State only)
Arthur: Raised in California, born in North Dakota
UM: What type of disability do you have?
Arthur: T3 spinal cord injury
UM: When were you diagnosed/told? How did you handle knowing?
Arthur: 2007 of late December I woke up from a 23-day coma after being shot in the chest, was told by the doctors the bullet damaged my spinal cord leaving my body paralyzed from the chest down. I was devastated. Extremely hard at 20 years old hearing, my life will go on in a wheelchair.
UM: Was depression a problem? If so, how’d you overcome it?
Arthur: Depression hit me as soon as I got back home. Doctors and nurses weren't there to assist me, and things I used to do around the house I couldn't do anymore. For example, walking up my four steps to enter my home; I had to instill a ramp. I became a prisoner in my own home and never wanted to see daylight. Friends and family forced me out of my bedroom, took me hand cycling (adaptive bicycling with the use of your hands only) and I was grateful for the use of my arms, upper body, and found my purpose to live again.
UM: What limitations does your disability place on you?
Arthur: I try to live life limitlessly and not let this wheelchair limit what I want to do. Only little things such as getting something off the top shelf, or playing around in the sand; I'm still able to relax at the beach though with the thanks of mobile beach chairs at certain beaches.
UM: How did your peers and family handle your disability?
Arthur: Hard at first. But as I overcame my depression and accepted my new life, they only supported everything I wanted to do from there, including my foundation.
UM: How has your disability affected daily activities?
Arthur: I knew I wasn't able to play my favorite sports that I was actively involved in the same. This is why I am more than grateful for adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, wheelchair baseball, and hand cycling. I was always heavily involved in sports which were one of the biggest activities I had to adjust to.
UM: Are you employed? If so, how does your disability affect your job? Are there any accommodations?
Arthur: I am self-employed. Prior to my injury, I was involved in real estate but after I was injured my passion was to speak out about senseless youth violence to the world and become a motivational speaker. The only way my disability affects my job is that people can see firsthand what can happen to an innocent person over a senseless act of violence. We need to stop the violence.
UM: Tell me about the biggest obstacle you face having a disability?
Arthur: My biggest obstacle was doctors and science telling me I won't walk again with my spinal cord injury. I strongly believe with a positive mindset and hard work, I will walk again.
UM: Do you drive? Were you worried that you wouldn’t be able to, or do you want to learn?
Arthur: Driving was one of the first things I wanted to do again. It gave me a sense of independence. My brother is a handyman and was, fortunately, able to instill hand controls in my car for me. I was able to learn to drive with hand controls within only a few days. I was worried I wouldn't be able to drive again, thank goodness for hand controls!
UM: What is something that you hope gets better for the disabled community?
Arthur: Awareness. I am huge on accessibility and being comfortable wherever I go. As is anyone. I believe it is important for the community to know the disabled community appreciates the ramps, the assistance, and the willingness to help when they see we need it. It sometimes feels like a burden to ask a stranger for help up a few steps, but some people are far too kind when they are aware of the obstacles we face daily.
UM: A quote or saying that keeps you motivated. Why?
Arthur: Life goes on. Keep it pushing. And one of my favorites, "Use your smile to change the world, don't let the world change your smile" got me through the darkest days and I find myself constantly sharing these quotes with others that need a little uplifting
Note: To check out more with Arthur and the Life Goes On Movement...go to www.lgof.org