California Dreamin’: Abilities Expo Comes to Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. — After spending the last few years in the tourist mecca of Anaheim, the Abilities Expo moved its 2007 Southern California event to the port city of Long Beach, where people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, educators, clinicians and DME manufacturers gathered for three days of camaraderie, learning and networking.

The June 15-17 consumer event featured the usual exhibit hall that housed big-name seating, mobility and automotive manufacturers alongside community artists and local mobility/rehab suppliers. New to this year’s itinerary was Kids’ Day, with face-painting and balloon-sculpting clowns providing Saturday’s entertainment. Sports demonstrations throughout the weekend featured athletes showing off their skills in basketball, football, golf and quad rugby.

In a move meant to educate and attract seniors, AARP and Shared Solutions America’s booth touted the benefits of universal design and accessible home retrofitting, not only for seniors and people with disabilities, but for entire families. This was the first year that AARP signed on as a show series sponsor.

Wheels for Humanity (www.wheelsforhumanity.org), in conjunction with United Cerebral Palsy, was on hand to collect used wheelchairs and other DME that would otherwise be discarded. Donations are refurbished, then sent to developing nations such as Mexico, Palestine, Uganda and Vietnam, where volunteer seating & mobility specialists match the equipment to the appropriate clients.

According to Abilities Expo show manager Veronica Gonnello, attendance for the three-day event — which finished on Father’s Day — topped 7,500. The event returns to Long Beach in 2008.

The final Abilities Expos event for this year will be in Minneapolis, Sept. 7-9. For more information, including how your clients and customers can visit for free, visit www.abilitiesexpo.com.

This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of Mobility Management.

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