A wheelie good Pride

The Saturday before last was Rock Hill Pride! I decided to take Alice because she’s never been to a festival before. Of course Brad came with me, and we met Scarlet and their friend Jess, too!

Veronica looks over her shoulder while sitting in her wheelchair with fairy wings on it. Alice peers around Veronica’s arm and smiles at the camera, too.

Since I knew I wanted to be there a long time and walk around a lot, I brought my manual wheelchair. Brad is in a power wheelchair. Scarlet also uses a power wheelchair. And Jess uses a manual! So we were definitely “on a roll” together at Pride!

Four colorfully dressed people and one Japanese Chin (also colorfully dressed) lined up next to each other on a sidewalk.

This year it was in a different location and much more spread out. There were four areas of activity. Three had vendor areas, and one was a resource alley with a bunch of different services and nonprofits that might serve the community.

We met up and rolled around the first area, and were pleasantly surprised how uncrowded it was. With so much more space than last year (nearly four times the space, it seemed!), there was enough room to roll unimpeded. The dogs we saw were also much less stressed than last year, as well.

We got some pictures in front of a bubble machine! And Scarlet and Jess were interviewed for a podcast.

Veronica and Alice are among the bubbles! Veronica smiles while Alice looks up towards a passing bubble.

Everywhere we went, we were a big hit. Some people honed in on Alice, and others on our outfits. Brad and I were definitely some of the wilder dressed and makeup-ed people there—he did our makeup. Alice had on her rainbow cooling coat. I was wearing a rainbow mermaid dress, fairy wings on my wheelchair, pastel rainbow faceprint with glitter and rhinestones, and a pastel rainbow wig. Brad had on rainbow shoes (everyone LOVED those!!!!), pink pants, a colorful shirt, a gold glitter jacket, blue faceprint with feathers and rhinestones, and a straw hat.

Three colorful wheelchair users roll down the Pride alleyway.
Brad in all his colorful glory!

I was able to push myself around the first smaller area most of the time because it was pretty flat. But to get to the second area, we had to cross a street and a large parking lot. So it was time for a tow! Brad is able to hook an umbrella over his headrest and I hold onto the umbrella for a tow. It hurts my hands to hold on too long, but it hurts them less than pushing my wheelchair myself for the same distance would.

Around an accessible parking symbol painted on the ground, three wheelchair users raise their fists in disability pride!

The second area had more clothing and shopping, and we had fun checking it all out. When we got to the start of the third area, Scarlet and Jess were worn out! They had parked a long distance away from the festival, so we wanted to help them get back to their car. I left my wheelchair on a grassy median, Brad stayed in the empty parking space, and we loaded Scarlet, Jess, and their wheelchairs into our van. I drove them over to their car, then got back before anyone tried taking our spot!

Veronica smiles and Alice looks directly at the camera, too!

By this time, my hands were really starting to hurt a lot. So the rest of the outing I mostly got a tow from Brad.

We wanted to stop off in the restroom, but they didn’t have an accessible port-a-potty. We asked and they said there were accessible bathrooms in the kid’s area (which was inside a building). We put our masks on and headed in. Unfortunately these restrooms were not quite accessible. They had stalls which were wider than the regular stalls in the bathroom, but they really weren’t wide enough for a wheelchair. I couldn’t maneuver mine around the toilet. They were probably at the very minimum of ADA compliant standards. So I left my wheelchair outside the stall with Alice sitting on the seat, left the door open, and did my business. It was the last stall so no one was going to walk past, but it still didn’t feel very nice.

Next we headed to the fourth area—the resource alley. This was along a street with tables set up on the sidewalk. We had fun seeing the NAMI table and all the other tables!

Veronica and Alice chat with two volunteers at the NAMI table!

Midway through, we realized we could cut through and see the rest of the third area, so we did! We asked someone at one of the booths to take some pictures of our towing arrangement. Below are several of those pictures from different angles.

Then we headed back down and finished the fourth area. Lots of people wanted to pet Alice!

In a dense crowd, two small kids pet Alice. Alice looks mildly interested in them, and Veronica laughs.

I was pretty hot, so I cheated on my no-sugar diet and had a freeze-pop! It turned my tongue blue!

Veronica eats her freeze-pop, while Alice makes eyes at the person who gave it to her.
A closeup of Veronica smiling and Alice looking off to the side.

We finally headed back to the van and headed home. While my hands were sore, my hips were not thanks to the wheelchair. And I wasn’t completely exhausted from the outing, either! We ended up staying for about 2.5 hours. If I hadn’t had the wheelchair, I don’t think I would have lasted more than an hour. I just can’t wait until I can get my power wheelchair so that my arthritic hands don’t get so sore pushing myself or holding on to the tow umbrella! Remember, if you want to donate to my wheelchair fundraiser, here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-wheelchair-means-freedom-for-veronica

Below are all the pictures Brad kept and edited from our outing. I think they turned out great!

Leave a Reply