Kolakanta Darling – Mother, inspirational community member…and a person living with MS.
Prior to my diagnosis in 2003, I was full of energy and life. For years before I had MS I was an avid runner, master of the unicycle and was constantly doing things to stay active. After my diagnosis, I had to find other ways to maintain my active lifestyle despite the fact that my MS progressed and required me to use canes and eventually fore arm crutches to maintain my balance while walking. Though my movement was impaired, I was always determined to maintain my independence and mobility, thus in 2008, I began using a Segway to get around. I found a company that builds seats for Segways that allowed me to sit while walking my dogs, grocery shopping, visiting friends, and above all else, remaining an active part of my community
Growing up, my children would load the Segway into our family car and I could drive wherever it was that I needed to go. However, as my children grew up, graduated high school, and moved on to college, I realized I needed to find a vehicle that I could get my Segway into without any assistance, otherwise I would be stuck at home, calling friends for rides. Living in a rural community like mine can be challenging for someone’s independence and without a vehicle of your own you are limited because there aren’t many public transportation options.
Kolakanta's kneeling van and modified Segway
So once again, I was determined after all these years to continue to maintain my independence. I learned about a van option through friends at church who had a kneeling van for their son who uses a wheelchair. I spent time looking at some of the adaptive vans with side entries but they would not work because they didn’t provide me with the clearance I needed. A kneeling van worked perfectly to drive the Segway into the back. After much research and time, I found the van that I needed but unfortunately, I was struggling to find financing with my limited income.
Kolakanta was determined to find a way to maintain her independence. She looked at some adaptive vans with side entries but they did not have the clearance she needed. She learned about a kneeling van through friends at church whose son uses a wheelchair. This van would allow her to drive the Segway into the back. After much research, Kolankanta found the van she needed but was struggling to find financing with her limited income.
The possibility of holding on to my independence and staying connected in the community seemed grim until my friend April stepped in and decided she wanted to coordinate an effort to raise the funds for me to get this van, with the help of the National MS Society Colorado-Wyoming Chapter, Holy Cross Energy, and the Basalt Lion’s Club. The funds were raised through grants, bingo, silent auctions and other fundraisers in our community and I received the new van last year. Every penny helped and I am filled with gratitude every time I drive my van through town. It took a village to make my dream come true and this village is stronger for the way it came together to keep me, a member of the community, connected.
My Walk MS team, Powered by Faith, will be at the Walk MS & 5K Run in Glenwood Springs on May 19, supporting the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National MS Society and moving us closer to a world free of MS..
Please Join The Movement with me by
registering for Walk MS today.
I can’t wait to see you on Walk Day!