No Barriers Summit

Looking Back on a Busy Summer and Looking Forward to Fall!

Summer has gone by so quickly, and I wanted to share some of the events I’ve participated in and the opportunities I’ve had in the past few months.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I attended the Global Pathfinders Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia on May 20-24. The Global Pathfinders Summit celebrated the 400th anniversary of democracy in Virginia and brought together 150 delegates from 50 different countries. During the summit, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe. We talked about democracy and global issues, such as corruption, politics, and policies. Then, we participated in service projects and developed a framework for future democracy based on our conversations. When talking about our cultures, I was surprised that other young people face very similar problems that young people in America encounter. I took away from this event the importance of looking at issues globally. If we worked together globally, we could begin to tackle issues that affect us all.

PHOTO: Matthew, outside,In a blue colored shirt, In a photo with five new friends that he met at the Global Pathfinder Summit In Charlottesville Virginia early in the summer.

PHOTO: Matthew, outside,In a blue colored shirt, In a photo with five new friends that he met at the Global Pathfinder Summit In Charlottesville Virginia early in the summer.



PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair, in a black shirt and cap with khaki shorts holding a falcon with a smile on his face. This took place at The No Barriers Summit.

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair, in a black shirt and cap with khaki shorts holding a falcon with a smile on his face. This took place at The No Barriers Summit.

On June 13-16, I attended my fifth No Barriers Summit in Lake Tahoe. No Barriers hosts these summits yearly to provide people with disabilities the chance to participate in some great activities. This year, I participated in an improv course and falconry. I also did a boxing course with my brother, which was great. As always, I had a great time at this year’s summit!



On August 8, I was the keynote speaker at the first Mass Care Symposium hosted by the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia. At this event, I spoke to 200 people about the importance of making emergency preparedness plans inclusive for people with disabilities and for the elderly population. I talked about why people with disabilities should be involved in the planning process and in practice scenarios when it comes to emergency preparedness, and also discussed what items shelters can include to make people with disabilities feel more comfortable.


PHOTO: Matthew on stage, in a blue shirt, in his wheelchair. He front of an audience listening to his keynote. A TV to the right of him reads Disaster Dialog. There is also a picture of a fire on the screen. This keynote took place as part of The Virginia Mass Care Symposium.

PHOTO: Matthew on stage, in a blue shirt, in his wheelchair. He front of an audience listening to his keynote. A TV to the right of him reads Disaster Dialog. There is also a picture of a fire on the screen. This keynote took place as part of The Virginia Mass Care Symposium.

Throughout the summer, I’ve also submitted several presentations to several organizations for different events. I submitted a presentation to Virginia’s state-wide Emergency Preparedness Conference. I also submitted two proposals focusing on making workplaces more inclusive and disability-aware for a conference in Canada.

I’m looking forward to speaking on a diversity panel for a conference hosted by Visit Richmond on September 26. The conference is focused on diversity in travel and the media, and we’ll be talking to travel writers, journalists, and other people in the tourism industry. We’ll also have someone from the African American community and someone from the LGBT community to talk on the panel, and we’ll discuss the ways travel can be made more inclusive and enjoyable to our communities.

Even though it’s not lobbying season right now, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into lobbying during the off-season. I’ve continued my lobbying work for the Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment First (VA APSE) this summer and have met with 10 legislators about the upcoming legislative agenda. I’ll also meet with a few more legislators in the coming weeks.

Earlier this summer, I served as an expert witness in court. I drafted a report about a case in Michigan that involved a person with a disability. This was a my first time as an expert witness and it was a really cool learning experience that had me thinking about disability from a different perspective. It’s definitely I’d like to do more of if I have the opportunity!

As you may have noticed, we’ve made some changes to our website recently! We’re going to continue to make updates to the website, so keep an eye out for new content coming soon!

There will be new podcast episodes coming out soon, and I’m looking forward to everyone hearing the newest episodes! Bob and I have interviewed some really great guests on the podcast recently and we’ve had some really great conversations. We know you’re going to love hearing what our guests had to say!

Coming your way is an exciting project that I’m working on with 6 Wheels Consulting volunteers Emily Deaton and Carolanne Monteleone: an eBook! Details on the eBook will be in future social media posts and blog posts!

I have some really great projects that I’m currently working on, and I’m excited to share them with you soon! As always, thanks for reading and make sure to follow 6 Wheels Consulting on our social media platforms to keep up with the latest news!

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair in a black shirt black hat and khaki shorts smiling. Standing next to him is his brother, Jason. He is smiling in a blue shirt and khaki pants They are having their picture taken in front of a blue backdrop that reads No Barriers.

PHOTO: Matthew, in his wheelchair in a black shirt black hat and khaki shorts smiling. Standing next to him is his brother, Jason. He is smiling in a blue shirt and khaki pants They are having their picture taken in front of a blue backdrop that reads No Barriers.

Upcoming Events, Conferences, and More!

It’s been an exciting year for 6 Wheels Consulting so far, and there’s a lot more still to come!

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Gayton Elementary School in their Gators Choose to Include Campaign. This campaign is all about sharing the importance of inclusion and celebrating differences. I was able to kick off the campaign by talking to 500 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade about my experiences. The students were incredibly engaged and excited, and I was delighted to be a part of Gayton’s Gators Choose to Include Campaign.

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking to Gayton Elementary school students at the Gators Choose to Include Campaign kickoff event.

PHOTO: Matthew Speaking to Gayton Elementary school students at the Gators Choose to Include Campaign kickoff event.



I returned to George Washington University to speak with students who are studying to be physical therapists and occupational therapists. These students learn so much in their time at school and learning how to interact with future patients is an important part of their studies. Sharing my experiences with them and talking about how important self-determination can be to patients is a great way to add another dimension to their education.


PHOTO: Matthew speaking to OT and PT Students at George Washington University about the importance of developing self-determination within their patients.

PHOTO: Matthew speaking to OT and PT Students at George Washington University about the importance of developing self-determination within their patients.

I have several events that are also coming up soon. On May 7-10, I’ll be attending the 2019 Family Voices Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The organization focuses on the importance of families in children’s healthcare, and I’ll be representing Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) at the conference. A youth panel at the conference will allow everyone to hear about issues that affect young people with disabilities.

PHOTO : Logo for the Global Pathfinder Summit.

PHOTO : Logo for the Global Pathfinder Summit.

May 20-24, I’ll be participating in The Global Pathfinders Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia. This great event will bring together people around the world and will focus on leadership and networking. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning from some great leaders.



A few days later on May 30, I’ll be in Vermont to be a keynote speaker for a Youth Advocacy Council. This group consists of young adults who want to hone their leadership skills and connect with other people with and without disabilities. This empowering event will focus on the importance of positivity and enjoying being present in daily life.

From June 13-16, I’ll be attending the No Barriers Summit once again, which is being held in Lake Tahoe. There, I’ll get the chance to connect with and speak in front of others. I’ll also be participating in some great activities, including improv and falconry.

At the beginning of August, I’ll be a keynote speaker at Gayton Baptist Church where I’ll talk about emergency preparedness. I’ll be focusing on the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities when preparing to react to different types of emergencies.

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast logo.

PHOTO: 6 Wheels Consulting Podcast logo.

Finally, I’ve recently recorded several new episodes for the 6 Wheels Consulting Disability Podcast. In upcoming episodes, you’ll hear interviews with Evelyn Clark, who talks about the process of becoming disabled, Ashton Fallen, who shares her experiences parenting a child with a disability, and Emily Deaton and Carolanne Monteleone, who talk about the intersection of chronic illness and disability. In the works is also an episode with lawyer Helen Hardiman from Hardiman Law where we’ll talk about fair housing, disability and more. Make sure to tune in to catch all these great episodes!


As always, thanks for your support! Please continue to stay connected to our social media pages for updates. I’m so excited for everything I have coming up and can’t wait to see what else spring and summer has in store.

Staying Busy: Conferences, Keynote Speaking, and More

PHOTO: Program from attending.The 2018 Collaborations Conference. The program depicts two silhouettes of people. One person with a disability in a wheelchair and one able-bodied person holding their arms up in victory.

PHOTO: Program from attending.The 2018 Collaborations Conference. The program depicts two silhouettes of people. One person with a disability in a wheelchair and one able-bodied person holding their arms up in victory.

        At the end of September, I attended the Collaboration Conference in Virginia Beach. There, I was able to network with organizations and individuals about lobbying work. I’ll start lobbying again in January, which is coming up quick! In addition to networking, I also heard updated policy outcomes and listened to a few different programs.

PHOTO: Listening to the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Collaboration Conference.

PHOTO: Listening to the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Collaboration Conference.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting in his wheelchair, In khaki pants and a button-down shirt, In front of a projector screen getting ready to begin his Leadership on a roll program in his Ed session Atlanta.

PHOTO: Matthew, sitting in his wheelchair, In khaki pants and a button-down shirt, In front of a projector screen getting ready to begin his Leadership on a roll program in his Ed session Atlanta.




            I went from Virginia Beach to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at the NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) South Conference. It was my first time presenting a new program, Leadership on a Roll. I spoke in front of around 60 people and talked about different types of leadership. I’ve always loved to talk to others, and I always enjoy the chance to share my experiences with others.


PHOTO: Matthew smiling with four enthusiastic students from VCU's Student activities board. This was after his presentation at the NACA South conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

PHOTO: Matthew smiling with four enthusiastic students from VCU's Student activities board. This was after his presentation at the NACA South conference in Atlanta, Georgia.




            On October 5th and 6th, I attended my fourth No Barriers Summit in New York City. The No Barriers Summit is always a great chance to meet new people and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I took an improv course, learned about adaptive fencing techniques, and did a workout routine with two trainers. A concert on the last day, featuring artists including Mandy Harvey and Judah and the Lion, was a great way to end the summit. If you think you might be interested in attending next year’s summit, you can sign up for more information here.

            I came back home from New York City to give a talk as a keynote speaker at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University. I talked to around 70 students and professors about how I navigated the university as a student. I also spoke on a panel and answered questions about what I looked for in a school as a person with a disability and how I chose to attend VCU. It was a really engaging conversation and it was great to hear about other people’s experiences.


PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

PHOTO: Matthew, in a suit and tie, delivering a keynote speech at VCU in front of 70 students and faculty.

            On October 10th, I also was a keynote speaker to students at my former high school, JR Tucker. I graduated high school almost ten years ago, and I talked to the class of 2019 about enjoying the rest of their time in high school and how using the RAPP (Resilient, Approachable, Persistent, Positive) mentality could really benefit them as they moved forward in high school and into their future. There were about 2,000 people in attendance, and I really appreciated getting a standing ovation at my former school.


PHOTO: Matthew on stage at his high school, JR Tucker, in front of 2000 people. He was the keynote speaker for the class of 2019 Convocation.

PHOTO: Matthew on stage at his high school, JR Tucker, in front of 2000 people. He was the keynote speaker for the class of 2019 Convocation.

PHOTO: Matthew in front of the room presenting His disability etiquette program to 28 students In Buffalo, New York.

PHOTO: Matthew in front of the room presenting His disability etiquette program to 28 students In Buffalo, New York.

            The next day, I went to Buffalo, New York to attend an Ed Session. I presented two different programs to an audience, which included students with disabilities. The first program related to disability sensitivity training while the other program was my Be Your Own Wrecking Ball program, which highlights the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. Hearing from students with disabilities and getting to share my knowledge and experiences made the sessions really memorable.

PHOTO: Matthew, In the front of a small room, presenting his second Ed session In Buffalo, New York. This one was about getting out of your comfort zone.

PHOTO: Matthew, In the front of a small room, presenting his second Ed session In Buffalo, New York. This one was about getting out of your comfort zone.




PHOTO: Matthew presenting his disability etiquette program to STEM Students at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

PHOTO: Matthew presenting his disability etiquette program to STEM Students at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

            I spoke at two schools in October: one in New York and one local to me in Virginia. First, I talked to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high school students at Scarsdale High School in New York. Since those students could be making products in the future for people with disabilities, it was a great experience to interact with them. While I was at Scarsdale, I also talked with an adaptive PE class. After speaking at Scarsdale, I went to Woolridge Elementary School in Virginia and met with the school’s fourth and fifth graders. I talked about the idea of inclusion with them, and the students were all really excited and curious. I loved getting to hear their questions and I hope the experience will help normalize the idea of disability for those students.


PHOTO: Matthew taking a group photo with several smiling fourth and fifth graders from Woolridge Elementary School after his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew taking a group photo with several smiling fourth and fifth graders from Woolridge Elementary School after his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of 250 fourth and fifth grade students Woolridge Elementary School during his Positively Inclusive presentation.

PHOTO: Matthew sitting In front of 250 fourth and fifth grade students Woolridge Elementary School during his Positively Inclusive presentation.



Finally, I spoke at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium on October 23rd. I talked to physical therapists and occupational therapists and explained through my perspective how to help a person with a disability find the right tools. As someone who has used assistive technology throughout my life, it was a great opportunity to share how assistive technology has helped me and how it can help to create inclusive environments.

PHOTO: Matthew, on stage next to a screen, serving as the keynote speaker at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium in Roanoke, Virginia. The keynote was about how Matthew has utilized assistive technology throughout his life.

PHOTO: Matthew, on stage next to a screen, serving as the keynote speaker at the Regional Assistive Technology Symposium in Roanoke, Virginia. The keynote was about how Matthew has utilized assistive technology throughout his life.



            It’s been a wild month, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep busy! As we approach the holidays, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take it easy for a few days. Then, I’m looking forward to continuing my work and seeing what comes next! Make sure to stay connected with all of the 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC social media pages and website for updates on ongoing and future activities and episodes of the podcast. 

Back to the No Barriers Summit

Recently, I got to experience one of the highlights of my year as I returned to the No Barriers Summit.   This year’s summit took place in Copper Mountain, Colorado from July 23 through the 25.   As our time to leave was approaching I couldn’t help but reflect on the life-changing experience that occurred for me at this event last year.  It truly reshaped how I feel about getting out of my comfort zone and I was pushing to build off of that experience this go around.   I did just that.

             Joining me once again on this amazing journey was my mom and my three friends Kari, Keri, and Timmy.   Tagging along with us this year was my dad.   I was so excited to have him there to experience all of the incredible things that the summit provides the participants.   He got to see me do some remarkable activities.

             On the first day of the summit I participated in a session around neuro movement.   Neuro Movement is the practice of retraining your brain on how your body works through small social movements.   The sessions made me feel so good and taught me about dealing with pain.   I enjoyed this session so much that I went back several times during my downtime throughout the week and had more one-on-one sessions done.   I definitely plan on trying to continue this treatment.  

While at the summit I also had the chance to try archery again.   This is an activity that I’ve picked up recently here at home but I wanted to continue to try and develop my skills with this activity.   We were out there for quite a long time as we shot for three hours.   I can’t shoot an arrow the typical way, so I have to use my mouth to help drawback and fire it.   I started off the day pretty awesome by hitting several of my first few targets.   As the day progressed I started dealing with fatigue and was not as accurate with my shots.   Even though I was getting slightly frustrated I kept trying to improve.   I would hit some targets here and there, but overall I just enjoyed the experience.  

As the session was coming to a close they allowed each of us fire a crossbow.   The power behind this bow was absolutely incredible.   It felt so exhilarating to fire that weapon.   One of the nice features of the bow was that it had a laser site that made it easy for aiming.  I was able to pop a balloon that was placed on the target with my second shot.  I felt like Rambo.   During this whole event my dad was grinning ear to ear seeing what I was accomplishing with a bow and arrow.   It was great to have him see me doing that.

 Later that day Timmy and I ventured over to the aquatic center to participate in a scuba seminar.   I have never been scuba diving before. This was probably the most fun thing I did at the summit this year.  Every year when I go to No Barriers I always try to do at least one thing that will completely take me out of my comfort zone.   This year, that event was scuba.  

 Staff helped me transfer from my wheelchair into the pool, which was heated by the way, to get started.   They actually put the equipment on you in the water to make it a little bit easier.   The biggest challenge I quickly learned about was learning how to breathe with the regulator.   Your instinct is to panic under water, but you are supposed to take huge deep breaths and trust that the regulator will breathe for you.  It felt surreal to be able to explore under the water with such freedom.   Timmy would flash me a thumbs up underwater and I can tell that he, too, was enjoying the experience.   I’m glad he and I were able to share this adventure together.   I would love to continue trying to learn how to become better at scuba. I felt so empowered taking part in that activity.

On the last day of the summit I took part in a wheelchair self-defense class.   I wanted to do this to learn a few ways to defend myself if I ever got into a sticky situation.   A lot of what we learned revolved around hand-to-hand combat techniques that could be used in case you felt threatened by someone.  Your first tactic is to try and de-escalate the situation by telling the individual that you don’t need any help or want trouble.   If that doesn’t work, then you try to gain the upper hand by getting them in a position where they are less likely to hurt you.   My class had two people in wheelchairs as well as someone who has a visual impairment.   It was great seeing how you can use momentum in your environment to protect yourself.   I hope to continue doing some self-defense training in the future.

 One of the best parts of the summit, to me, is the people.   This could range from the speakers to the other participants to the family members that come along for the ride.    I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Kyle Maynard, who is somebody who lives with no limbs.   He is a remarkable person who has climbed some of the tallest mountains and taken part in an MMA style flight.   We have stayed connected after the summer and I know that he is someone that I will lean on for advice regarding my consulting work or life’s struggles. 

 I’m also reminded of some of the other participant’s like Cole who has joints that don’t bend, like a normal elbow or knee.   In spite of this, he was able to go on a group hike, and with the assistance of an off-road wheelchair, climbed to the top of a mountain in Colorado.   The support that Cole, I and all of the other participants of the summit receive while there is truly what makes this program so special. You are a part of an environment that is so supportive and encourages everyone get out of their comfort zone.   With the thought of always trying to do something a little bit bigger out of my comfort zone every year and seeing a video of Cole’s adventure on the mountain, I have challenged myself next year to climb up a mountain using an off-road wheelchair.  

I am truly trying to live the No Barriers motto of “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way” I would strongly encourage anyone who lives with the disability or who wants to get more out of their life, to consider attending the No Barriers Summit.   I promise you, it will change your life as much as it has mine.   If you would like to learn more information about No Barriers visit their website HERE

 Remember please stay connected to all of our social media pages to learn about the latest and greatest updates on what we’re doing with 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC.   So many amazing things are happening.  Stay Tuned. 

PHOTO: Matthew Going scuba diving.

PHOTO: Matthew Going scuba diving.

PHOTO: Matthew shooting archery with his mouth.

PHOTO: Matthew shooting archery with his mouth.