To Tanzania with Love | The Laurita Spina Bifida Project wants to donate wheelchairs

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.” — Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”)

I don’t really remember what it’s like not being able to walk. As parental anecdotes recall, I was about two years old when I took my first steps. My parents were overjoyed, of course, but probably more than most parents, because I have spina bifida. According to my doctors at the time, I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk.

I may not remember what it was like crawling around the house or not being able to stand up, but, at age 30 now, I am beginning to grasp what it means to have limited mobility. My knees and back hurt constantly, and my wheelchair is getting much more mileage than it used to.

As I recently learned through a good friend I’ve never met, there are people in Tanzania, and in many other countries, who do not know the privilege of owning a wheelchair— what a blessing it is to have the equipment to facilitate mobility.

Little did I know until these past few weeks, that there are people on the other side of the world who would give anything to have the freedom I am often complaining about— the freedom to move.

That’s why my non-profit organization, The Laurita Spina Bifida Project, has offered to help the Association for Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus Tanzania (ASBAHT) by raising funds so they can purchase wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and a prosthetic leg for a young girl with spina bifida.

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Image courtesy Sifa Sylvia, ASBAHT 

A shifting perspective

It really gives me pause to reflect on how grateful I am for my “inconveniences.”

Over there, where my friend lives, people aren’t griping because someone took the accessible parking space. Or because their wheelchair won’t fit in their friend’s car when she offers to give me a ride.

They don’t complain about these problems because they don’t exist. Because access to the mobility devices they need doesn’t exist.

Many moms of children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus must push their children in strollers instead of carrying them. If they don’t have access to the brain surgery to have a shunt placed, the children’s heads grow until the parents can no longer carry them. Even these strollers are very hard to come by. As for me, I am only vaguely reminded I have a shunt in my head when the weather changes and I feel a slight headache.

This holiday season, I am fully committed to making the freedom of mobility a reality and not just a dream for at least several people in the Tanzanian spina bifida community…people who are much like me.

Maybe this will make a huge, life-altering difference for them. Maybe it won’t. All I know is, everyone needs someone in their life who refuses to give up on them.

I have you guys. Now, it’s my turn to be that person for somebody else.

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Image courtesy Sifa Sylvia, ASBAHT 

How you can help

What we need, first and foremost, is monetary donations. Whether it’s $5 or $500, every dollar makes a big impact when you add it all up. Trust me on this! How incredible is it that for the price of a latte macchiato you bring us one step closer to giving a deserving human being the gift of mobility?

 

Here’s a rough estimate of what each item costs, in U.S. dollars:

• Wheelchairs – $140.00 each

  • Walkers – $70.00 each

• A prosthetic leg for a youth with spina bifida – $460.00

Other ways to help out

If you own a company or know of a company or organization that might be interested in partnering with us to help raise the funds, please reach out to me at laurita.tellado@gmail.com. I truly believe “it takes a village,” and you are all my shining example of that!

Consider this campaign for your company’s end-of-year charitable contributions. Every donation is tax-deductible.

Also, since there are just so many wonderful social good campaigns during this time of the year, we need your help with getting the word out. Please, post to Facebook, Tweet, share, blog, Pin, Instagram post, etc.! There is truly no action that is too small to make a difference.

Please share / post using the hashtags #TheLSBProject , #SpinaBifida, and #Give5ToThrive (because we want to encourage that no amount is too small!).

Keep up with this campaign by following and connecting with us on social media:

The Laurita Spina Bifida Project on Facebook

@TheLSBProject on Twitter 

@TheLSBProject on Instagram

Remember what it’s all about

Finally, keep in your mind and heart that we are doing this to pay it forward. We have been so Blessed throughout this entire process, and I’m grateful for each and every person who has been part of The Laurita Spina Bifida Project’s journey thus far.

In the words of my friend Sifa of Tanzania, the angel behind-the-scenes who has put me in contact with the ASBAHT: “It will be an honor for ASBAHT to partner with you or any other organization or individuals out there with the heart to help the forgotten children, youth, and adults living with SBH in Tanzania.”

Thank you, Sifa. We’ll do our best.

Love,

Laurita ♥

The Sad Truth About ‘Selfies’ #NaturalDay

Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. I will not receive any compensation for writing/publishing this post. I am writing it of my own free will. All ideas and opinions are my own.

 

I’ve had a lot to say lately on the societal front. And I mean, a LOT. It’s no secret that I’ve always had my major gripes with society, and who can blame me? As a young, naïve, kindergarten kid, it was society that informed me that I was different, and not in a way that would be deemed “acceptable.”

It was children in our society that bullied, taunted, and tormented me, and it was parents of those children in our society that stood by idly, shrugging their shoulders, and letting it happen, while my parents made desperate phone call after phone call to plead on my behalf that they talk to their cruel kids. 

But maybe– just maybe, this wasn’t entirely their fault. Because other parents maybe stood idly by while this happened to them as they were growing up. They learned that some kids are just “born different,” and it’s okay to stand by while they get helplessly picked on because of something in their physical appearance. 

I’ve made some incredible friends in the past four years of being a blogger and online activist. Last night, while flipping channels absentmindedly, I grew bored and decided to join the #NaturalDay Twitter party, hosted by my awesome friend, Nadia Jones, of Justice Jonesie and the Niche Parent Network.

The party’s guest of honor was Sanah Jivani, a girl with an unbelievably remarkable story that I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of until yesterday.

Sanah was diagnosed as a little girl with a rare disorder that caused her to lose her hair gradually. By the time she was in middle school, which is such a critical time in the human development process, she had lost it all.

The target of teasing and bullying, she decided to take a bold step– she took to YouTube and filmed a short video of her removing her wig.

It went viral. She received many supportive and encouraging messages, and she had found her calling. 

Sanah launched a project called “Natural Day” for today, February 13th. The purpose is to get everyone to go without makeup, wigs, or embellishments for one day. The request is simple, but it sends a strong resounding message about who we’ve become as a society. 

We are all smoke and mirrors. On instagram, we are all about filters. 

It’s sad to realize that, in an age so obsessed with “the selfie,” most of these self-portraits are actually staged– with lots of makeup, perfect lighting, and carefully-coiffed hair. Rarely is there any actual spontaneity in these images. And, as a result, rarely is there ever any truth. 

Watching Sanah’s brutally honest video, I can’t help but wonder what my friend Carly Findlay, an Australian blogger and badass appearance activist, would have to say about this topic. She has spent her entire life living with a condition that she can’t hide from.

In a way that might not be obvious to most, I’ve done something very similar with my body– I’ve tried to hide it. I’m reflecting on a post I wrote in 2011, Standing on My Own Two Feet, which I found excruciatingly difficult to write. 

I remember sitting at my laptop, eyes wide and wary, hands cold and clammy, as I hit “publish.” I remember refreshing my Facebook page what seemed like a million times as supportive comments pouring in.

I remember my eyes welling up with tears as I realized that people love me and accept me for who I am.

I remember feeling vindicated. 

So, for Sanah and so many others, here’s my own selfie. No makeup, hair slightly “done” but nonetheless in disarray. No smoke or mirrors– just me. 

 

 

NaturalDay

 

 

Who knows? If Sanah can do this– reveal her true self, little by little, maybe I can, too. 

 

I never go out without makeup on my face, so for me, let’s just say this is a good first step in the right direction.

Be sure to post your own selfies and videos without makeup and with natural hair today, using the hashtag #NaturalDay! And follow my girl Sanah on Twitter @SanahJivani.

We may be a society that is saturated with images of New York Fashion Week models that are rail-thin and wear excessive makeup and high heels, but we’re all human and we can grow. (To that end, did you see this awesome article in HuffPo about the first woman with a ‘physical disability’ to strut the NYFW runway? Check it out!)

Yes, these are all baby steps, and it’ll take a heck of a lot more than just a selfie or two to change long-held standards of “beauty.” But that’s what’s so fabulous about the internet.

It only has to start with one. 

 

For more of my thoughts on beauty and self-worth, please read “The Woman in the Mirror,” my post on the BlogHer ’12 Fashion Show, which I participated in as a model, as well as “Standing on my Own Two Feet,” which was chosen for BlogHer’s Voices of the Year in 2012. 

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

 

 

It Takes a Village

That is, without a doubt, one of my favorite, perhaps overused, sayings. But, I’m a firm believer in its veracity.

I don’t think anyone was put on this Earth to “go it alone,” at least not entirely. If you reach out far enough, there is always someone there.

There has always been someone there for me– many people, in fact. 

For several years, one of those people has been Tracy Jensen. The mother of five beautiful boys, her youngest, Kumaka, has spina bifida. She and I connected on Facebook a long time ago, and since then, her stories about Kumaka’s strength, resilience and overall sense of adventure and humor have encouraged me during difficult times.

Through all of their challenges, Tracy has remained an exceptional mother, as well as a great encouragement to many families in the spina bifida community.

Many parents might raise an eyebrow and think, sympathetically, (and frankly, a little condescendingly), “I don’t know how Tracy does it.” And I’d be lying if I told you the thought hasn’t crossed my own mind more than once. What is most amazing about Tracy and her family is that they always take the time to support their community and involve their kids in great things. Kumaka is currently following in the tire tracks of the notorious Aaron Fotheringham, a WCMX (extreme sports for wheelchair users) pioneer and truly, the resident badass of the spina bifida community. 

While living on the west coast, Tracy and Kumaka also support and encourage Misty Díaz, a runner who has spina bifida and is raising funds to help kids and youth with disabilities compete in sporting events.

So you see, this is a very mutually nurturing community, and our paths often overlap. Now Tracy, the woman who does so much for all our community, needs our help. 

She has reached out– this time, across the globe– and fallen in love with a little girl named Sofi.

Sofi is four years old, lives in Eastern Europe, and she has spina bifida.

During the first two years of her life, Sofi was only bottle-fed and was rarely let out of her crib. As a result, her physical impairments are severe, as she has been deprived of achieving several critical milestones.

 

Sofi Rose

Still, her sunny disposition are encouraging signs that she will continue to improve, and she now lives in another orphanage, where she is thriving.

But, she needs a family, and a permanent, loving, safe home. And so, Tracy and her family are heeding this little girl’s call for help. They’ve decided to adopt Sofi, and bring her home to the U.S., where they will take excellent care of her, as they have for Kumaka and Sofi’s four other big brothers.

Since August 2012, the Jensen family has been tirelessly raising funds to offset all of the costs associated with Sofi’s adoption– the court fees, travel documents, airfare, hotel stays…the list goes on and on. Indeed, the expenses are astronomical.

The moment that they get to carry Sofi into their home will be priceless. You can’t quantify the value of a family’s love

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared my thoughts and heartache over orphaned children overseas who are living with spina bifida. All of the challenges that children face in an orphanage environment are multiplied many times over by the severity of the child’s condition.

In Sofi’s case, we know the sky will be the limit for her– once she comes home. 

In a classic race-against-time, the Jensens have been presented with the possibility of having her home with them for Christmas, but they can’t do this without our support. 

Please take a moment to visit Tracy’s donation site for Sofi and commit to giving $5, $10, $20, $25– any amount will help, and it all adds up. 

If you can afford that latte (ironic, since I’m typing this at my local Starbucks!), you can afford to help bring Sofi home. 

In Tracy’s own words, “We may be on this journey to adoption because we feel led to bring Sofi home, but you all are on our journey too…you are all part of the steps to bring our girl home.”

I feel privilege to be part of the “village” that wants to help bring Sofi home. From the orphanages of Eastern Europe, to the creature comforts of her new West Coast home, it’ll be quite the journey for little Sofi, but luckily, she has all of us to guide her steps along the way.

 

Tracy_and_sofi

It may take a village to raise a child, but it’ll take an even bigger village… to bring her home for good. 

–Love,

Laurita ♥

Help Keep a Hero Moving Forward

A few days ago, a longtime friend of mine, Julie Harley, reached out to me and told me about a contest she entered for her daughter, Ruby. Ruby has spina bifida. Ruby also has been diagnosed with autism.

As a mom, Julie spends a lot of time, energy, and love making sure Ruby and her sister have the best quality of life possible. I remember several years ago, the first time she contacted me through Twitter. She seemed like most of the fabulous moms I know– worried, anxious about the future, often frustrated with the lack of resources or knowledge in the community.

A precious moment between Julie and her daughter, Ruby.

 

Julie is not like most moms, though. She might be like most moms in the spina bifida community– strong-willed, determined, compassionate, and activist-minded. She also isn’t afraid to share even her family’s most vulnerable moments, in the hopes that their story will help others.

One of the greatest challenges Ruby went through recently was when she had to be on a strong antibiotic for an infection. As a result, the prolonged use of the antibiotic resulted in her contracting C-Diff, a dangerous infection that is very difficult to get rid of.

In addition to her daughter’s own challenges, Julie has struggled through back surgery and multiple knee surgeries, making it hard for her to lift 75-pound Ruby into their current van.

Now, she needs the support of her community– our community. She has entered to win a custom wheelchair-accessible vehicle so that she can continue giving beautiful little Ruby an amazing life!

Normally, I know I don’t write posts like these. But, I have come to care so strongly about the Harley family, as they are a true example of people who are always smiling, no matter what they’re going through. I have nothing but admiration for all of them!

And while Ruby is indeed the focus of this contest– the little heroine– there is no doubt in my mind that she inherits her courage and resilience from her incredible mom.

Please, take a moment to visit this link, and vote for Ruby. It won’t take up more than 30 seconds of your time, but it will be life-changing for Ruby and her family.

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

The Resolution to Resolve: Following Up on the Hilton New York

After I publicly denounced the Hilton New York last week for their gross oversights in wheelchair accessibility, something of a magical nature (as any blogger knows!) happened: I got a response. 

This past Wednesday, only a day after publishing Accessibility is Not Optional: An Open Letter to the Hilton New York, the Resident Manager of the Hilton himself, called me up and apologized for the whole mess. We spoke for almost an hour (!), during which time he repeatedly expressed his regret for all that transpired, and he also took the time to tell me about steps that the hotel administration is taking to ensure better access for all patrons.

One thing that I found really interesting is that some (not all) of the rooms already have a  system that causes lights to go on, illuminating your path on the floor when you get out of bed during the night. He also told me about some other key accessibility features, such as a vibrating pillow in lieu of a clock’s alarm and strobe lights for people with hearing impairments.

They are also working on a separate accessible bathroom, to be used only by patrons with disabilities, on the second and third floors where I spent so much time during the BlogHer conference.

Kenneth Jarka, the Resident Manager I spoke with on the phone, was kind enough to share with me an E-mail that was forwarded to him. It’s related to the elevator incident, and it was sent by the Director of Security of Paramount Group, Inc., the building that leases the space in question and that is used by the Hilton. Above is a screenshot of that E-mail, which tries to explain what happened.

While the changes described by Mr. Jarka are, indeed, very promising innovations, I feel it is still very important to hold the Hilton accountable, especially after an E-mail I received from a fellow blogger, who has been working on a story about this. The Director of Corporate Communications replied to her:

“There was a misunderstanding and everything has been since clarified with our resident manager who spoke to one of our guests who was affected by an elevator being out of service.  Our resident manager spoke to the guest for an hour this afternoon and everything has been resolved.  In fact, she was very pleased at how we handled BlogHer ’12 this year and praised various team members for doing their due-diligence and [taking] special interest in her situation when one of the elevators was affected and personally escorted her to an event on an other floor.”

Well, here, in turn, is my complete response to the blogger, in regards to Hilton Corporate’s statement:

I wouldn’t go as far as to say the issue has been ‘resolved.’ Rather, there is a resolution to resolve it. According to my conversation with Kenneth Jarka, the resident manager, they are putting systems in place to solve these problems. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the whole story while I was staying at the Hilton New York, but after my conversation with Mr. Jarka, here’s what I know: there is, in fact, a working elevator (and I’m told, it’s a nice one) that could have taken me from the second to the third floor for the events held in America’s Hall. Here’s the problem, though: the Hilton leases that space– they don’t own it. It is part of a separate building next to the hotel, owned by Paramount Group, Inc., and the security personnel was in charge of keying on the elevator leading to that space. Well, that didn’t happen– the security personnel in that building failed to do so, leaving me no other choice but to take the cargo elevator. 

My conversation with Kenneth was actually very pleasant, very honest on both our parts, and he genuinely apologized for all of the inconveniences and negative situations that took place. But I think the issue goes deeper than that– it is a matter of communication between the personnel at the Hilton and the personnel at the other building. 

On the bright side, Kenneth took the time to tell me about other innovations that have been made to ensure accessibility and comfort to all guests, and he welcomed suggestions I had that might make it easier for wheelchair users, in particular. 

While the initial feelings of negativity that I was left with after this experience are gone, I’m looking forward to an ongoing communication with the Hilton management in which I can hopefully express some of the needs of people with disabilities in terms of accessibility. I feel very encouraged as to where this is headed, but the Hilton New York– and no doubt, other hotels with similar issues– have their work cut out for them. Accessibility is an issue to be taken seriously by all corporations, not because we deserve ‘special privileges,’ but because we need certain accommodations to ensure we have equal access like all other patrons. 

According to the latest census, there are 36 million people in the U.S. living with a disability. That’s a huge economic power we wield, so we need to hold all businesses accountable to the standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

So, there you have it.  That is my somewhat-confused response to a very confusing situation. I think the real lesson here is that corporations are not single units. Rather, they are large organizations comprised by thousands of people, and while, as a corporation, they might share a core value or general opinion on an issue, for the most part, you will get very different reactions and interpretations from different people on different issues.

While the response from corporate left me feeling as though they are scrambling to do damage control (although my blog post was not written with the intent to “damage,” mind you, but merely to shed light on a problem), my conversation with Kenneth shall forever remain in my mind as a genuine attempt to make personal amends, from one human being to another. 

After all, why go through all the trouble of forming departments such as “human resources” and “corporate communications” and “guest relations,” if we fail to see the value in communicating and relating, one human being to another? 

And that’s what my conversation with Kenneth was all about. No statements, no agenda– just one human being chatting with another. 

I’ll keep you all posted as anything else develops. 

 

Laurita 😉

 

Accessibility is Not Optional: An Open Letter to the Hilton New York

On August 1st, I arrived in New York City to attend the BlogHer 2012 conference. From then until August 5th, I stayed at the Hilton New York, which, conveniently, was the site of the event. 

The BlogHer conference is one of the largest conferences for bloggers out there, and the largest social media conference geared towards women. 

 

 

Let me first mention that this is not the first event I’ve attended at the Hilton New York. In 2010, I attended the BlogHer conference for the first time, and that’s where it was held. Last year (2011), I attended Affiliate Summit East, also held at the Hilton New York.  Not being one who likes to dwell on the negative, I overlooked– twice– the obvious accessibility issues that are impossible for someone using a wheelchair to ignore. 

I’ve had enough. I’m speaking out. 

At least three of the events that weekend (August 2-4) were held at a ballroom which, I later learned, was part of a separate building where the Hilton rents space. Still, imagine my horror when I first found out that the only way to access that ballroom is by using the escalator– or a cargo elevator.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

In allowing several of the parties that weekend to be held in a separate location that was inaccessible by a regular, human-friendly elevator (as opposed to a cargo elevator, which is totally unacceptable), the Hilton New York sent BlogHer attendees the message that they are both unprepared and unwilling to cater to the needs of guests with disabilities.

I personally paid to stay at the hotel during the conference because, ironically, of the ‘convenience.'” But if convenience to them means being condescendingly treated like cargo and being forced to a ride a potentially dangerous freight elevator, then I will unfortunately have to miss out on future events. 

When BlogHer attendees obtain a conference pass, they are assuming to be treated on an equal level as all the other attendees. What happened to me– having to wait 20 minutes while an employee verified that there was no alternate access to the event, therefore missing the first part of the party, then being addressed in childish terms (“it’s okay, sweetie”) by an unprofessional Hilton employee, and riding an elevator that is not intended for guests– is a far cry from the sense of equality and solidarity that one usually feels at BlogHer. And for the Hilton, it is a blatant and unapologetic violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

 

After I Tweeted the Hilton New York account several times (with much restraint, I might add), I finally received direct messages from them, claiming they wanted to “meet with me” to “rectify the situation.” After several misses, I was mortified to discover their idea of atonement was to seek me out during the Voices of the Year ceremony (during which I was an honoree), a formal, sit-down event with speakers that had already begun. They made a paltry attempt at apologizing to me in front of my bewildered parents (whom the Hilton people did not even address) and went on their way.

The disability is theirs, not mine. I still can’t believe how rude they were to the two people who have been supportive of me in every way. 

I Tweeted them again before checking out of the hotel, asking to meet with them again in the hopes of having the chance to discuss things calmly, without other people around, but they replied after I had already left, rendering their “efforts” pointless.

Now, I cannot speak about the situation without pointing something out: I was not the only blogger with a disability at this event. I saw plenty of wheelchairs during the conference, and God only knows how many others had invisible challenges. I’m not trying to make assumptions based on what I saw– I’ll only surmise that I wasn’t the only one.

If there is one good thing at all to be found in this humiliating experience, it’s this: two fellow bloggers I had just met and who were eager to join the party insisted on waiting with me and then rode the ‘fright’ elevator with me. I can’t thank them enough for their genuine concern and willingness to stand by a fellow blogger. They were just as outraged as I was, and they followed up with me to ask if I had been contacted by the Hilton.

 

 

So to me, that one positive aspect of these unfortunate events highlighted a promising point: while the Hilton New York drew a metaphorical dividing line between a minority group (those with disabilities) and the rest of the group, the BlogHer community didn’t hesitate to cross this very same line in their support of me. I felt very proud to know that my fellow bloggers didn’t see a distinction between “my problem” and “their problem.” When one blogger is slighted, the entire community stands beside her in solidarity. 

And my fellow bloggers weren’t the only one to take a special interest in this situation. TheAssistant Director of Food and Beverage at the hotel, Jason Tresh, happened to be standing near the ballroom at lunchtime. I didn’t have time to sit down and eat, because my volunteer shift at the registration booth was about to start. 

The kind employee offered to bring me a plate of food to the booth, and I got to talking with him about what had happened the night before. He was outraged. He couldn’t stop apologizing to me, even if he had nothing to do with it. 

Near the end of our earnest conversation, he handed me his card. “It doesn’t matter what time it is– if you need anything at all, you call me at that number.” 

I thanked him wholeheartedly. The next evening, just as attendees lined up at the escalator to go up to another party, I took him at his word, and called. 

He was there in five minutes, to personally escort me, along with Kelly Kwok Lee, Meeting and Conference Service Manager, and an intern, in the same freight elevator, to the party. Only this time, I was treated with the dignity and respect worthy of a guest. I was the first person admitted to the party, and the way I was treated, by this man who decided to take responsibility for another’s inaction, made me feel truly like an honored guest, and not like a nagging inconvenience. Jason instructed me to let Kelly know whenever I was ready to leave the party, and he would come to escort me. 

 

Mami and me with Jason Tresh, who helped turn a negative situation into a positive one! Thanks so much, Jason!

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that, after we checked out of the Hilton New York, my parents and I checked into the Hilton Garden Inn, a very small hotel, just a few blocks away from where we had been, and yet it was worlds away in service.

We showed up at the hotel, and we asked if by chance our room was ready. It was already 3 p.m.-ish, but it wasn’t ready yet, so we asked to stow our luggage in the lobby in the meantime, so we could walk around the city. They had no problem with this. 

When we returned to the Hilton Garden Inn, it was past five, we were tired, we needed to change, and we were informed the room still wasn’t ready. In total PTSD mode (once, burned, twice shy!), we said, almost in unison, that that was unacceptable. We needed a room– now. 

The young manager immediately took it upon himself to rectify the situation. He offered to show us another room that was available, identical to our original one but on a different floor. He said if we liked it, we were welcome to stay there instead. We agreed that was fine for us, and he said “I’ll be buying you breakfast tomorrow morning.” All this, with a pleasant smile and every reassurance. 

Customer service done RIGHT. 

I’m glad Mami took the initiative of snapping a photo of a notice that is prominently displayed at the front desk of the Hilton Garden Inn: 

As good as gold for me!

 

And that, Hilton New York management, is at the very heart of the problem you are facing. Social media isn’t about who’s manning the Twitter account and is able to respond quickly– it’s really all about one thing: our shared humanity.

I’m looking into the process of filing a formal complaint against the Hilton New York. Not because I’m trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but because everyone else at BlogHer (or simply staying at the hotel) who I saw with wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, deserve better. 

Our humanity demands it.