Dinner without my legs

Mailyn Abreu

No one has ever asked for a disability until FAU started handing them out for dinner.

When I walked through the doors to the Student Union’s Grand Palm Room, I was asked for my disability preference: did I want to be blind, deaf, have my dominant hand “amputated,” or be in a wheelchair.

On Oct. 20, the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) and the Owls Supporting Diversity Club (OSDC) hosted the first ever Diversibility Dinner. Guests got a free meal, but were given a handicap.

I didn’t know what disability I wanted. I didn’t pick being blind or deaf because since it would make reporting this story difficult, so I picked the wheelchair. I thought it would be easy – until I started moving around.

After a short speech from OSD, people were called to the buffet line. I tried to roll my chair on my own, but had a really hard time turning, so David Valliere – my table moderator and a graduate student – offered to help me out. It took longer than I expected to go through the line since I wasn’t going at my own pace and I had to depend on someone else to help me.

I bumped into some people and tables while I was being wheeled around. I felt really bad about hitting them, but all I could only apologize as I was pushed to the food.

When I finally got to the buffet, I couldn’t reach some of the food because the table was at face level and the chicken was above me. I tried to reach for it, but couldn’t stretch far enough, so I gave up. Valliere had to put the chicken on my plate.

Each table had a discussion about how being impaired felt. The people with amputated arms said they had a hard time cutting their food and the blind people had to use smell to know what they were eating.“The thing about disabilities” said Valliere “is that people tell you you can’t do things, but it makes you want to do things even more.”

My wheelchair was pretty comfortable at first, but after two hours my body ached. My calves and back started getting sore – like I just got back from the gym.

Before the dinner, I’d see people with disabilities without thinking of their lives – I just automatically felt bad for them. Now, I can see that they’re really strong people.

If you want to know more about OSD and their events visit their web page.