Feb. 22, 2011 -- "What Would You Do?" fan Amy Saffell was born with spina bifida, a condition that leaves her wheelchair bound. After learning of the "How Would You Do It?" contest, she was inspired to submit what proved to be a winning idea. She shares her story below.
Amy Saffell's Story
As a longtime follower of "What Would You Do?", when I heard that the show was asking for submissions, I jumped at the chance to have my story heard. Being born with spina bifida, I've used a wheelchair all of my life, but I haven't let it stop me from doing the things that a lot of other people aspire to do. After graduating college, I moved to a suburb of Nashville where I have my own place and car and work for a record label. I spend my time going to concerts, volunteering, and enjoying the company of friends. I've navigated life's twists and turns by learning to adapt to my circumstances, knowing that my belief in my abilities can carry me further than any physical limitation could weigh me down.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't always understand that someone with a disability can be successful and independent. Not a week goes by when I don't experience someone thinking that I'm far less capable than I really am, and I wanted to bring my experiences to light through "What Would You Do?" with the hope that viewers would begin to reconsider how they think about someone with a disability. I had only seen one previous episode of "What Would You Do?" that featured someone in a wheelchair in a scenario surrounding accessible parking, and just as that scenario told the story of someone with a disability who was striving to be an independent adult in society, I wanted the opportunity to show the same in a little different way.
When I got the call that my submission had been chosen, I was thrilled and very surprised! I had submitted my scenario a few months ago, and I'd honestly forgotten about it. I never really thought that my scenario would be chosen, but I'm definitely glad that I was wrong. I was so excited that an issue of disability awareness was going to be addressed on national television because, even though it's my story, it's also the story of so many with disabilities around the country. That call from the show set off a whirlwind of trying to get ready for the trip. It was my first time in New York City, and I wanted to make sure that I was prepared to enjoy as much of the city as I could during the time that we were there, both from a sightseeing and entertainment perspective and also from a winter wardrobe perspective. Living in the south where, if it gets too cold, we just stay indoors, I knew that I'd need a few more layers to deal with the New York winter weather and the more outdoor-centered culture. As our plane began to descend on the The Big Apple and knowing just how much there was to see, I couldn't wait to begin exploring the city.
Contest Winner Amy Saffell's Story
My mom got to go on the trip with me, and it was wonderful to share the experience with her. We tried to pack as much as we could into our trip. While we were there, we ate some fabulous food, took advantage of some great shopping, attended a taping of "Live! With Regis & Kelly," and got to see James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy. I loved getting to experience the lights of Times Square, the fashion of 5th Avenue, and the beauty of Central Park. Although there was plenty more to see, I felt like we got a true taste of New York on our visit.
The other obvious highlight of the trip was seeing my scenario filmed. I was nervous that my scenario would be the one that wouldn't pan out when it came to actually playing it out, but I was thankful for that not being the case. It was a pleasure to be greeted by John Quinones on the set, and I loved getting to watch someone with his experience and expertise in his element. Throughout the day, everyone took such care in making sure that the scenario was authentic to my life, which was something that I really appreciated. Watching the show come together and the challenges in making a successful episode gives me an even greater respect for those that work on the show. It was awesome seeing something that I wrote actually being taken seriously by people who I had just met. I haven't seen the final edited product yet, but I was really happy with how it came out on set. I'm extremely proud to be a part of this episode!
The whole experience was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. I've loved telling people about my trip, and I'm excited for everyone to see the show. I can't wait to see how it turned out! Taking the chance that I did in submitting my story and how having it turn out the way that it has inspires me to take more chances when it comes to telling my story. For those who watch, I hope that the show proves to be enlightening. While I hope that these times become less frequent, I can definitely say now that every time someone has an ignorant attitude about my capabilities, while I may still be frustrated, I will also be able to think back fondly on my experience in New York with the show.