'Rolling with Style': Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

On Feb. 6, I attended Discovery through Design's "2007 Rolling with Style Gala" as part of New York's Fashion Week. What a great event. From the red carpet to the reception, from the fashions to the speeches and the entertainment, it was fun and glamour all the way.
The show was the result of a three-year effort by Discovery through Design, a group of four inspiring women in wheelchairs, including Sunrise Medical's Marilyn Hamilton. The organization's goal: to honor women's lifestyles, create awareness and raise funds for disabled women's health initiatives and spinal cord injury research.
The event also served another purpose. With the industry facing trials and turmoil on numerous fronts, "Rolling with Style" demonstrated what a difference home medical equipment can help make in a person's life.
Held at Cipriani on 42nd Street and emceed by 60 Minutes journalist Leslie Stahl, the event's goal was to draw attention to women who've achieved success while using wheelchairs...roll models, if you will. And draw attention they did.
All the elements of a typical Fashion Week show were present: the elegant audience, the bright lights, the throbbing music and the models sashaying down the runway. The differences between this and other shows became apparent when a roll model appeared in a Quickie wheelchair designed by one of the designers.
There were speeches, there were presentations to each of the role models, there was a top-notch dinner. Women who use wheelchairs who were in the audience were spotlighted to say a few words. The "Rolling With Style" Award was presented to Army SFC Eva Diane Cochran who has been in a wheelchair since her injury in Afghanistan two years ago. There was entertainment, including singer Deborah Gibson.
All in all, it was one of the most inspiring events I've ever seen for women, especially women who use wheelchairs. There was so much positive energy, you had to feel uplifted.
"Rolling with Style" required a lot of energy and resources--more, I suspect, than what most providers and industry stakeholders can muster. But there are lots of great stories about what we do as a business, about the hope, inspiration and independence our customers achieve. These stories appear regularly in HME News, but they need to reach a broader mainstream audience. If you want to know how to do that, check out our Missed Opportunities story on page 24: "Got ink? Local media coverage boosts biz."
"Rolling with Style" was a great start, but we need to keep this positive momentum going, and everyone needs to pitch in. You've got a good story, now it's time to tell it.