The ‘right to move’ gets a boost
Donation to the Center for Discovery
HURLEYVILLE, NY — The Technology Hub and Incubator (THINC) at The Center for Discovery (TCFD) in Hurleyville is now comprised of five different labs. On January 10, TCFC announced the opening of the American Portfolios Assistive Technology Lab. Pat Dollard, president and CEO of The Center for Discovery (TCFD), also announced that the lab was receiving a $500,000, five-year donation from American Portfolios, a financial services company.
Lon Dolber, CEO of American Portfolios, was at the press conference for the announcement to talk about his connection to the enterprise. He said that about 10 years ago he was asked to lead a group of people who were physically and emotionally challenged, along with other athletes, to top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He was hesitant to accept the challenge from the organization, World Team Sports, because, “it’s a miserable climb,” but ultimately he did.
He said that while the climb could be accomplished in seven or eight days, his group spent 20 days on the journey. “I saw the humanity of the people I was there with,” he said. “I spent time with these individuals, these human beings that were very different, and I found out that wow, we have a lot in common.”
As the group got close to the top, Dolber had decided he would not go to the top. Instead he stepped aside. The next person in line was on the autism spectrum and had not talked much during the climb. But Dolber said to him, “You lead them to the top,” and he did. As the group was parting at an airport gate, the man walked up to him and said, “I’ll always remember I took everybody to the top.” Dolber said the trip was transformative.
He said the lab ties into the outdoor experiences for athletes who require adjustments, “because you have to sometimes develop devices to help individuals get into the woods, get on a device, to get into a kayak, and so this was the perfect partnership for me, to put resources into the lab, which helps individuals get into these sporting events.”
“For more than 30 years, we’ve been committed to developing assistive technologies and devices for individuals that allow them the right to move—with dignity and with freedom,” said Dollard. “Today, the official opening of the American Portfolios Assistive Technology Lab brings us one step closer to being able to transform lives, not just here, but everywhere.”
One project to emerge recently from THINC was IndieGo, which director of Innovation at TCFD Jason Kean addressed at the news conference. IndieGo, which was funded by Google.org with a $1.2 million grant, was created to develop a prototype for a device that would, according to a TCFD press release, “instantly turn almost any manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair.” The mission behind IndieGo was to help people with physical disabilities practice “the right to move.” Kean said IndieGo is close to being able to launch a commercial operation.