It was a morning much like any other. The morning dew was still on the grass, wetting my feet as I ran across the back lawn. It was still a bit dark because the sun hadn’t yet peaked its way over the mountains. The daily rush hour traffic on main street hadn’t started, and there was hardly a car to be heard. The best time of day to exercise.
It was Sunday, a day to catch up on some chores after the morning workout. We had gotten back late Saturday night after a trip with friends to Quincy Market in Boston. Quincy Market is a favorite Boston shopping experience, filled with shops, food and entertainment. We laughed and had a wonderful day.
I picked up speed as I dashed across the lawn, like I had done so many times before, but this time something was different, something that I didn’t know, didn’t expect, and would change everything forever. I leaped through the air, not quite able to see the danger below me because of the morning darkness. Arms stretched out in front of me, it seemed to take longer this time for the water to hit my hands.
I opened my eyes and looked skyward, only to see the surface a foot from my face. Amazingly I hadn’t sucked in any water yet. I struggled to move, but nothing happened. I just floated, inches from air, moments from filling my lunges with pool water. I remember thinking, “what’s happening? I’m going to drown. I can’t move.” The next few moments were unclear, but peaceful, yet somehow I either floated or moved just enough to almost reach the surface. I had to time my gasps for air according to the movement of the waves. There wasn’t time to yell for help or gasp for air at the same time, but I managed a couple attempts, only to find that I didn’t have the lunge capacity to get out barely a murmur. My chest felt fuzzy and bloated. The sensation was sickening. I knew I had broken my neck.
How he heard my gasps I’ll never know, but somehow a friend who shared the house we rented said he thought he heard something outside and figured he’d better check. He rushed out to the pool and his sixth sense was right, something awful had happened. All I said as he dragged me from the pool was, “I don’t want to live like this.”
If you’ve ever been through a serious accident and injury, I don’t need to explain about the weeks in the ICU, the months in rehab, followed by years of having to adjust to life after a spinal cord injury.
It’s been seven years since that dreadful day. Every day is a challenge. Before my accident I had a successful position as manufacturing engineer. I was an avid downhill skier and loved going to the local stockcar races. Attempts at employment after rehabilitation lead to two layoffs and an income potential half what it was before my accident, not to mention the daily physical challenge of running the proverbial “rat race.” I felt like a volkswagon bug out on the freeway doing 80 miles per hour just trying to keep up with everyone else. I couldn’t do it forever.
In August 1999 my girlfriend and I decided to make a change. I quit my job where I earned barely $375 a week and we sunk every bit of our savings into the development of a Vermont website. I had no experience with developing a business and no website programming experience, but we had a desire to create a website that would offer exciting Vermont vacation information and Vermont products. We borrowed some money from family and friends and in November 1999 contracted a small website development company to begin developing the website. We got took! The website’s programming was a mess. Fortunately some good friends encouraged us to press on.
Susan and Rick
The website http://www.PiecesOfVermont.com was officially launched in January 2000. It was an expensive learning curve because the website needed a major overhaul and we couldn’t afford to pay someone to correct the mess that the initial developers had created. One thing I’ve learned my entire life is that when you’re backed into a corner, it’s time to buckle down and figure something out. I began re-programming the website and correcting all the major defects myself, one page at a time. Slowly the website got better as I made lots of calls, made numerous trips back and forth from Hastings NY to Vermont, and encouraged Vermont businesses to join us. We still have a long way to go, but at this point, thanks to those Vermont business owners that believed in us, we’re starting to get noticed.
From the beginning PiecesOfVermont.com has focused on southern Vermont, centered around the Wilmington/Mount Snow region.
We have to give special thanks Shearer Hill Farm Bed & Breakfast, http://www.shearerhillfarm.com, for believing in us. Innkeepers Bill and Patti Pusey not only understand the difficulties of starting a business, but they also understand what it’s like to be disabled, because they have a daughter who also is confined to a wheelchair. Shearer Hill Farm is one of the few bed and breakfasts we’ve found in Vermont that is wheelchair accessible. The B&B offers one accessible room in their carriage house that has a private bath and kitchen. Everyone, wheelchair user or not, agrees that this is the best room at the B&B. The B&B’s living area, dining room, and porch areas are also wheelchair accessible.
On PiecesOfVermont.com you’ll also find activities close to Shearer Hill Farm B&B that are also wheelchair accessible, such as Bean Heads Café, the North River Winery tours and the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop. Our goal is to continue build the “Accessible Vacations” section of the website, offering disabled people interesting places to stay and things to do throughout southern Vermont.
Vermont is not just known for vacationing, fall foliage, maple sugaring and skiing. Vermont is also home to some of the most wonderful handcrafted items and specialty food products, such as delicious homemade ice cream toppings, wooden toys and of course maple syrup, candies and butter. The PiecesOfVermont.com website offers several separate shopping carts for Vermont products. Products are shipped to you directly from the various Vermont producers.
One area that we’re excited to develop is our FREE e-mail community, YourName@piecesofvermont.com (see bottom of PiecesOfVermont.com home page for details), because we believe that there is strength in numbers. Our goal is to eventually be able to offer members special savings and discounts on Vermont products and activities.
The mission of the PiecesOfVermont.com website is to create an exciting online environment where visitors can explore Vermont's recreational and vacation activities, high quality specialty products and interesting people.
Sometimes I wish things were different and I could go back. I wonder what things would be like today if I hadn’t dove into that shallow pool that morning seven year ago. Living with a disability is never easy. I look at every day as a set of challenges to which one must find the strength to solve the daily problems. Like the Nike slogan, “Just do it!”
100 Clarewood Drive 2H
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706
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