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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Towards a more accessible campus, future

“We all have our motorcycle accidents,” said Al Foxx, author, inspirational humorist and president of the Winners Don’t Quit Association. “They just come in different forms.”

He was 18 years old and had finished his roofing work for the day. There was still time before the concert he was heading to later with friends and he decided to spend it with his fiancee. But time flies. Before he knew it, he was running late and so he did what many teenagers would.

“I jumped on my bike, gunned it down the driveway, raced down the street,” said Foxx. “I should’ve slowed down, but I sped up, and why not? I’m 18 years old, I’m pretty much invincible. I kept giving it more gas, more gas. (I felt) free, happy, powerful, in control.

“Wham. I never even saw the truck my bike slammed into.”

He woke up from his coma over a month later, brain-damaged, changed in what seemed the worst way possible. He was told he would never walk and never talk intelligibly again.

Foxx struggled with his new disabilities, feeling that he had lost everything. And yet, on Oct. 10, Al Foxx came to Dana Auditorium at Guilford College to speak for Accessibility Awareness Day, and he walked about the stage as he told his story.

With time, Foxx emerged from his depression, hopelessness and despair to become the inspirational speaker he is today.

“Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have,” said Foxx. “See, all of us have something. Even when I was in my wheelchair, I still had more than what I didn’t have. … (This attitude) made life so much easier and helped me to accept myself as I was when I began to focus on the blessings that I still had, instead of focusing all my energy on what I didn’t have and couldn’t do.”

This event alone has already gotten students thinking.

“He said, ‘Don’t be worried about offending us, because we’re not fragile,’ and in general I am a bit worried about offending someone who is disabled,” said junior James Brady. “I don’t really engage people who are really disabled because I don’t want to offend them. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but I really shouldn’t even worry about that. It’s more rude to just ignore them.”

The Accessibility Awareness Day events did not stop there.

Shortly following Foxx’s presentation, students, faculty and staff were invited to the West Gallery of Founders Hall to experience accessibility-themed arts. Jim Whalen’s acoustic performance of clever disability-themed songs book-ended performances of written art. Foxx read from his book, “No Limits,” and CCE SGA President senior Yvette Bailey and senior Michael Delson performed personal original poetry. Afterward, attendees had the opportunity to vote on the most touching of the disability-inspired artwork on display.

These Accessibility Awareness Day events, however, are only the beginning of Guilford’s movement toward greater awareness and accessibility for all students, faculty and staff.

“My dream is that we will all get to the place where every time that any of us — students, staff or faculty — are planning an event or creating a new policy … or whatever it may be, that someone in that room will think, ‘Hm, is this accessible?’” said Director of the Learning Commons and Chair of the Accessibility Subcommittee Melissa Daniel Frink.

Over the next few years, Guilford’s initial five-year accessibility plan will unfold. The first steps include spreading awareness, changing people’s attitudes toward disability and encouraging students, faculty and staff to consider the figurative motorcycle accidents they’ve faced. Looking forward, Guilford will be working on making information, the website, policies and procedures more inclusive and accessible.

“Be friends,” said Foxx to The Guilfordian. And in the words of Frink, “It’s a never-ending venture.”


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