Beach Day at the Wheel Way
March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month. On Saturday, the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport held their Beach Day at the Wheel Way and people with special needs and their families came together to participate.
“Having a disability does not define who you are:” That’s the message that motivational speaker Dwight Owens conveys as much as he can. “You’re valuable, your self-worth. You’re valuable; don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not valuable. So, I just want to tell you to keep moving.”
Since he was a child, Owens has had many obstacles to face. After losing his father at a young age, Owens was hit by a drunk driver, paralyzing him. “After that I knew there was something for me to do. So, after you’ve had all those injuries and you’ve been deemed a miracle, you’re not supposed to be here, you find purpose and what is there for me to do?”
With March being ‘Developmental Disability Awareness Month,’ the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport hosted their Beach Day at the Wheel Way, a free event featuring games, music, food, and fun.
Sparked by an idea of inclusion, the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport donated the wheel way path that assists those who normally can’t access the beach. Selena Rogers with the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport said, “I was actually here for the ribbon cutting for the beach access and to see somebody that was able to put their feet in the sand for the very first time was so overwhelming, so there is a true need.”
The wheel way is a one of a kind set-up and is the only one on the Gulf Coast. It’s something not many people have seen, including Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchel, an actor who stars in the hit shows ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ and ‘NCIS: New Orleans.’ “For them to do this wheel way, especially a person like me, I love the water, I love fishing. Not just for me, but for me to able to roll down with my children, you know what I’m saying? Now, it’s family members that can come out there.”
Mitchell became paralyzed after a motorcycle accident 18 years ago, changing his life forever. Since his accident, Mitchell has made it a point to advocate for people with disabilities. “It’s just about effort, inclusion. And a big day like this, I knew what it was like to be excluded in things before I was even hurt. To come out here today, it benefits me.”