Yosemite National Park, 1999
In 2000, Alyson was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left her with a spinal cord injury and paralyzed from the waist down. While in college, she was successful in establishing a “Disability Awareness Week” where students learned about different disabilities through simulation in order to understand the barriers that confronted students with disabilities. It brought a new awareness to the campus and became a catalyst for further accessibility within the community. After graduation, she taught music in the public and private school sector before joining the non-profit organization, Free Wheelchair Mission.
Alyson continued her advocacy by speaking at both the National Association for Music Education’s National Convention (2004) with her session entitled “Barrier-free Music Education: Concepts of Inclusion” and the National Orff Schulwerk Association National Convention (2005) with her session entitled “Mainstreaming the Process”. These sessions taught other music educators how to turn able-bodied music lessons into lessons that included those children with disabilities in the mainstreamed classroom. She has also written several articles and been published in a few magazines regarding disability awareness.
Yosemite National Park is now more wheelchair friendly and ADA compliant due to Alyson’s input while sitting on the Board of Directors. She has assisted Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a disabled member of the Atlanta inner-city community. To bring more recognition to those with disabilities, Alyson presented the “Ability through Mobility” Award to four recipients around the country for their outstanding work within their community despite their disability. She has traveled to Nicaragua to work at an orphanage for children with disabilities and taught music at a school for the blind. Alyson has also traveled to Mexico to deliver wheelchairs to the country’s poorest people with disabilities and has had the opportunity to collaborate with the former president of Mexico, President Vicente Fox, about the importance of providing wheelchairs to the citizens of Mexico in addition to providing aide and healthcare to everyone.
In her free time, Alyson enjoys playing violin in the local orchestra, exploring the great outdoors, baking, gardening, and photography. It is Alyson’s desire to educate the public on the truths of having a disability and empower those with a disability to be all they can be in a world full of possibilities.
"Alyson has also traveled to Mexico to deliver wheelchairs to the country’s poorest people with disabilities."