My friend Lilian Strandlund is a delightful woman with cerebral palsy who is 64 years young. About five years ago, she met my Dad, Jim Miller, at a Toastmasters speaking group. Lilian uses a power wheelchair due to her CP, which also affects her speech – yet that didn't stop her from joining Toastmasters and giving speeches! That's an example of the type of spirit that Lillian has, and one reason why the word "delightful" is a most appropriate description.
Lillian is one of our central Florida Quad Squad Bowlers, and she wanted to share what the IKAN Bowler® has enabled her to achieve and what it means to her. Without further ado, here is Lilian's testimonial…
I am so thankful to Jim Miller for inviting me to come out and watch the central Florida Quad Squad Bowling Group. I liked the group name right away. I was surprised to find out that somebody had invented a device where an electric wheelchair user could really bowl. I was very excited to go and watch.
The big day came. As Ed and I entered the bowling alley, I looked around for a familiar face. I saw Jim and a few wheelchair users. I headed for the group. Jim introduced me to his son, Bill, and the rest of the group members. Then I saw how a fancy bowling ramp called the IKAN Bowler® attaches to a wheelchair. It gives the wheelchair user complete control of the bowling ball. I watched as wheelchair users were driving with an IKAN Bowler® attached to their chairs, turning slowly to aim the ramp as they approached the foul line. Then I saw how the ball released when they stopped and it went where they aimed. Amazing!
After I watched for a while, Claude, the co-inventor, came over and asked if I wanted to try it. I said, “Oh yes!” He brought over an IKAN Bowler® and showed Ed how simple it is to attach it to my wheelchair. Claude and Bill gave me some pointers and then they let me loose. My first game I broke a hundred. I was thrilled! I had a real sport that I could participate in. I joined the Quad Squad at every outing they had and I was doing well.
One of Claude’s friends came and watched several times. One day he asked if I would mind if he bought an IKAN Bowler® and gave it to me. This person, Robert, whom I hardly knew, wanted to give me a bowler. I was speechless. I nodded my head. I was so touched by his kindness. Tears came to my eyes; I knew I would never be able to afford one.
I remembered Claude saying the IKAN Bowler® was sanctioned by the United States Bowling Congress and that meant I could bowl on an able-bodied league and in tournaments. Since Ed enjoyed bowling as much as I do, we joined a mixed league. The first day on the league I was so nervous. I knew they had to accept the IKAN Bowler® but would they accept me as a person who could bowl. Our group-mates were very gracious. Once I started bowling, people in the league were amazed how well I was able to control the bowler.
Let me explain something: in league bowling you must switch back and forth between two lanes. I had never done that before, but luckily I had enough room to switch lanes by going behind the ball return and scorer's table. I just had to be so careful not to bump anything, anybody, and not get in the way of any bowler bowling. Even though it was very nerve-racking, my first day on the league went very well.
For three years I have also participated in tournaments. I enjoy watching bowler’s faces turn from disapproval when they first see me to acceptance after they see me bowl. I like blowing people’s minds.
It is so gratifying to be able to participate in a sport with my loved ones. It feels so wonderful to be able to play side by side with an able-bodied person and be accepted. It’s like being on equal ground.
There is one more very important thing that the IKAN Bowler® has done for me. My mother and brother hold flying records. I never would have believed that I was capable of having a record also. I so much wanted to be like my mother and brother but I couldn’t see how it would be possible. With the IKAN Bowler®, my dream of holding a record has come true!! My 215 high game is actually the world record in multiple categories of dynamic wheelchair bowling. You can see them on the website: WheelchairBowlingRecords.com .
Thank you Claude, thank you Bill, and thank you Robert for making this possible!!!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Lillian and being delightful!