- Our guest speakers are a key component of CRWM events. Their experience, participation in events, and willingness to share their lives provides our participants with valuable perspective during our events. These speakers are unique- not in being wheelchair users but in who they are as people. These individuals represent acquired and congenital disabilities. They vary in diagnosis, range of disability, age, and individual circumstance.
- However- they all have one common goal! They want to educate our community on the challenges they face in accessibility, the obstacles they have overcame, and the amazing, independent lives they all live despite the circumstances.
If you are interested in speaking at one of our events, head over to our contact page and send us a message!
Meet the Speakers
W.D. Foster is an Army veteran and a former Birmingham police officer. He became a wheelchair user after experiencing what doctors described as a spinal cord stroke related to a physical fitness test at Craig Airfield while in the army. W.D met Cathy Carver at Spain Rehabilitation and began speaking for CRWM in 2017. He enjoys sports, especially basketball and UAB Blazer football. He serves on the Board at Lakeshore Foundation. W.D hopes participants gain an understanding that “People in wheelchairs are normal. Only difference is our mode of transportation. We like all the same stuff, music, sports, etc.”
To the World: “Do not just socialize with people who are just able-bodied – we learn the most from people when they are different from us.”
Karneshia Patton is a 29-year-old woman with L5 Myelomengiocele Spina Bifida. She was Ms. Wheelchair Alabama America – 2020. Her platform regarded proper representation of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry. She met Cathy Carver in 2016 and began speaking for CRWM in 2019. She enjoys doing nails, listening to music, shopping, traveling, and reading. She is currently a full-time nail artist. Karneshia hopes participants become “more educated on how to properly interact with people with disabilities, showing them that they can still make it .”
To the World: Our lives are not that different.
Josh Whitmire is a 37-year-old who enjoys writing, custom cars, and food. He describes himself as laid back- he can talk to anyone. He also has a passion for helping others. Since 2011, he has been employed full-time by Disability Rights and Resources. Josh was born with Spina Bifida but later acquired a spinal cord injury at the age of 12. He met Cathy Carver at UAB Spain Rehabilitation during physical therapy and has been guest speaking with CRWM since 2018. Josh hopes participant’s gain “an appreciation for some of the difficulties [wheelchair users] encounter and an acceptance approach towards people with different challenges.”
To the world: “We matter. Just because we may look different or act differently doesn’t mean we are any less human.”
Bryan Kirkland is a 51-year-old who enjoys working on cars, wheelchair rugby, hand cycling, and working out. He describes himself as determined- wanting to be the best at all he can do. He says his disability is not an excuse to keep him from being a good person and accomplishing the goals he sets. Bryan is employed by Home Depot and UroStat Healthcare, a urological medical equipment supplier. He became a wheelchair user following an C6-7 spinal cord injury in 1992 (20 years old) during a motocross race. He met Cathy Carver at UAB Spain Rehabilitation 25 years ago, and has accomplished great things, including becoming a Paralympic athlete, since then. In the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, he won the gold medal in wheelchair rugby, the bronze medal in Athens (2004), and the gold medal in Beijing (2008). He was the first Paralympic athlete inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Bryan hopes participants know, “life may be different when they leave Spain Rehab, but it doesn’t mean [life] can’t be lived to the fullest and with excitement.”
To the world: “Get out my way…. I got things to do!!! 😉”
Tim Alexander was injured in a car accident in 2006 which resulted in a T5 incomplete spinal cord injury and paralyzed him from the neck down. Through this tragedy, he certainly triumphed. Alexander is a husband, author, inspirational speaker, and UAB director of care to development, career placement, and community outreach life coach. Specifically regarding his role with the UAB football team, he coaches athletes in their mental performance. His priorities are to have children, begin a house facility (therapy at home), and continually become a bigger change agent in this world by accomplishing something “beyond his wildest dreams.” Cathy Carver was Alexander’s first therapist post-injury. Cathy inspired him and he inspired her which resulted in a life-long relationship. Amongst the CRWM community, he became known as the energetic, social butterfly “handy-capable” guy and hero for the “handy-capable” community.
For more information, please visit: https://www.inspiredbyta.com/
To the World: “We don’t need it to be easy, we just need it to be possible.”
Brooke Grissom is a 36-year-old who loves swimming and reading. She describes herself as fun, loving, and will to “go toe to toe” with anyone for things she cares about. Brooke is employed as an insurance agent. Brooke is a wheelchair user as she was born with Cerebral Palsy. She met Cathy Carver at UAB’s Wheelchair Clinic and is now a CRWM guest speaker. Brooke hopes participant’s gain “a better sense of what life is like for someone who has different challenges they may not face.”
To the world: “My chair doesn’t define me, it just rolls along for the ride!”