Nuts and Bolts and Duct Tape and Zip Ties

“Nuts and Bolts and Duct Tape and Zip Ties” | A Message of Thanksgiving from CEO Chris Garr

A few weeks ago, I was part of a panel discussion for a very unique engineering class at Cleveland State University. The course, Disability, Empathy, and Technology connects aspiring engineers to a more human side of their field of study. I was eternally grateful for the opportunity to engage with Professor Eric Schearer’s passionate students, but even more grateful to learn about their collective zeal for improving the human condition with their ingenuity, creativity. I shared much of the technical jargon that makes adaptive sports work for people with disabilities, and in turn, the students connected the concrete adaptations with a lens of empathy and understanding of not just HOW technology improves lives, by WHY it is so very critical to allowing all people to be part of a team.

Sara Steimle competes in the Jack Attack Boccia Tournament in Columbus this summer.

We are grateful for the ramps, head pieces, and tactile balls that allow us to play boccia.

We are grateful for the caster wheels, the cambered wheels, and the push rims that allow us to play basketball, football and tennis and turn on a dime.

We are grateful for the mono ski, the sit-ski, and the outriggers that allow us to speed down snowy slopes.

We are grateful for swivels, transfer chairs, more outriggers, and stability seats that help us to drift and slice through the water.

YC’s 2020 Goalball Team poses at a February practice.

We are grateful for the eye shades, beeps, bells, and floor markers that allow blind athletes to be blind teammates.

We are grateful for lifts, ramps, tie-downs, grab bars, and busses that allow athletes of any ability to access trails, parks, courts, and fields.

We are grateful for the pulleys, weights, bands, collars, and bars that help us to push ourselves to the limit or just get ourselves moving in the right direction.

We are grateful for toolkits, metal guards, back up batteries, and extra seat belts and size 11 soccer balls that make “the beautiful game” a reality for power wheelchair users.

We are grateful for parallel blades fixed on the bottom of sledges and for twin sticks with ice picks that give us an opportunity to play hockey… on ice, in pads.

Darnell, with the help of some amazing volunteers, enjoyed a hike on a Joëlette this summer.

We are grateful for handcycles, Joëlettes, suspension, and mountain bike tires that allow us to hike trails that reach the rocky tops of mountains and the cool pools at the base of waterfalls.

We are grateful for the OTs, PTs, engineers, coaches and teachers who understand the value of adaptive sport and know that being included on a team can mean a massive boost in a child’s self-confidence, physical health, and overall growth.

Finally, we are grateful for ALL OF YOU who support our mission and understand that the technologies we employ are a means to and end. All of the volunteers and participants who walk through the doors of our facilities and our vehicles are presented with these innovations, but without love, care, empathy, and compassion, the nuts and bolts and duct tape and zip ties are little more than hardware.

Team YC brings all that hardware to life and continues to ignite the human spirit with love! For that, we are all most grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!