He has limited use of his arms and legs, and just a bit of head control, which allows him to operate his power wheelchair through manipulation of headrest sensors. Scott’s sweet and lighthearted nature helps him make friends easily, and he is fun to be around. He is a popular participant in Goodwill’s Young Adult Services program, where individuals with disabilities build skills in socialization, health and safety, and self-direction.
Scott uses a speech generating device that he controls with a single switch attached to his headrest. When he wants to say something, Scott activates the switch on the device with a slight head movement, which generates a scanning pattern with up to 144 words and message choices. Scott must wait until his desired word or message is highlighted and then activates the switch with his headrest. If he misses the word or phrase, he has to go through the entire 144-character list again. Though this can be a time consuming and frustrating process, Scott never gets upset, he just laughs and repeats the exercise.
“Scott and I have worked together for several years with his speech generating device,” said Pat Schwinn MA/CCC, Scott’s speech language pathologist at Goodwill. “He always amazes me with his determination, skill and incredible memory, a vital asset for this type of communication. Scanning is a very time-consuming process and Scott has the patience and determination to speak his message.” “He has an excellent sense of humor and always seems to have something to laugh about,” Pat said. Scott is dependent upon his switch, his mount and his device being placed in the appropriate location and in good working order, and of course these things don’t always come together perfectly. His pleasant and patient personality gets him through many tough times, and he has the determination to find someone who can help him when needed.”
To many of us, challenges like the ones Scott faces every day may seem mind-boggling in their complexity, presenting huge communication barriers. But not for Scott. He faces life with an indomitable sense of humor and each day with wonder and joy. Brien McCarty is Scott’s instructor in Health and Wellness. “He is one of the most jovial and outgoing people around. When Scott sets his mind to accomplish something, there is no stopping him,” Brien said.
In 2015, Scott set a personal goal to compete in the Capitol City Patron Quarter Marathon, even though he had no idea how he was going to pull it off. He just trusted that he would find a way to make it happen. Inspired by his passion and determination, a dedicated group of Goodwill staff and volunteers known as “Scott’s Army” decided to help him attain his dream. They recruited sponsors, secured a retrofitted racing chair, and put together a training schedule worthy of an Olympian. Over a period of months leading up to the race, Scott trained with Brien to build up his upper body strength for race day.
Brien made sure that Scott got to experience the entire race process: registration, training, picking up his packet at the race expo, nervous anticipation at the starting line, and the pure joy of the wind blowing on his face while racing…not to mention the taste of victory at the finish line.
On that sunny day in April 2015, Scott’s Army took their place among 17,000 other runners in Downtown Columbus and finished the 6.6-mile journey with roaring applause from the crowd at the finish line. Scott’s Army was featured in a training segment on WBNS-10TV prior to the race, and then again on race day. Scott became an instant celebrity! And he was more than happy to be in front of the camera!
His innate ability to bring people together inspired some of his friends at Goodwill to follow their dreams. His enthusiasm was so infectious, and his feat so compelling, that six more participants with disabilities joined Scott’s Army in 2016, finishing the race. To know Scott is to know sheer fortitude. He is living proof that nothing should ever get in the way of fulfilling your dreams. Scott is the very essence of what it means to overcome obstacles and break down barriers. His friends at Goodwill helped him to achieve his goal, but it was Scott himself who made it happen. His spirit inspires each and every one of us to live life to our fullest potential.