To follow up our earlier blog, we are introducing ourselves here at DWT. Last week’s blog detailed how Ned Stoller caught the vision for enabling disabled workers to continue in their professions. For the past 16 years, Ned has been hard at work trying to help folks, and usually succeeding. One of his favorite stories is about a farmer who was faced with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
This debilitating disease, which is caused by the inflammation of outside layer of nerves, affects the ability of the nerves to communicate and causes a range of problems, ranging from various physical to mental difficulties. Understandably this is a difficult diagnosis to face. The farmer was struggling with discouragement and depression. As an engineer, Ned could see multiple ways to adapt his farm and equipment so he could continue working full time in spite of his weakness. However, when someone is depressed, no engineer can come up with a solution that can help the mind, and Ned could not help him right away.
However, several months later, while collecting soil samples for a hog farmer, Ned got into a conversation about his work with disabled workers. The farmer’s father had been disabled by the loss of both legs from diabetes but had continued to work around the farm until his death several years previously. The farmer was willing to donate all of the electric lifts and scooters that his father had used to keep farming. Ned brought it to the farmer with MS. It changed his life.
It wasn’t that the equipment was new, or ingenious, or amazing, but the fact that he (the MS diagnosed farmer) could connect with other people who understood his situation and were willing to help opened his eyes to possibilities. He gained a new vision on life and continued farming.
Ned sees his job as not so much ‘engineering’ solutions for disabled folks as ‘connecting the dots’ so people with disabilities can learn from and help each other.
Tune in next time for a continuation of the story!