The echoing spirit of resilience pervades the Touro Rehabilitation Center, New Orleans, as it hosts the impactful 2023 Automotive Mobility Awareness Tour. A union of purpose and possibility, the tour spotlights the crucial role of mobility equipment in fostering independence and quality of life for individuals with disabilities. At the heart of this event are Covington resident and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matt Cole, whose story serves as a beacon of hope and testament to the transformative power of adaptive technology.
Almost two decades ago, on May 17, 2005, Matt’s life was irrevocably altered during his second tour in Iraq. An enemy mortar attack resulted in spinal cord injury, paralyzing him below the T8 vertebrae. However, instead of surrendering to despair, Matt emerged from the shadows of his condition, his spirit of survival ignited by the newfound independence made possible by automotive mobility solutions.
Unlike many others who experience spinal cord injuries, Matt was fortunate to meet a mentor who acquainted him with the diverse range of mobility vehicles available. Matt asserts, “It’s very easy to fall into depression and self-pity, but when you have that independence from the vehicle, it changes everything.”
The event was held on May 31, 2023, and aimed to extend this vital awareness to others grappling with similar life-altering circumstances. A collaboration between the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) and United Spinal Association, the tour showcases various accessibility solutions designed to improve clients’ lives. It further emphasizes the collective efforts of hospital administrators, case managers, occupational and physical therapists, automotive mobility dealers, and manufacturers in this noble endeavor.
Reflecting on the essence of the tour, Danny Langfield, CEO of NMEDA, shares, “The reasons people need help with accessibility and mobility are quite varied, but having people like Matt speak up and show what is possible is incredible.” He adds, “We’ve seen when stories of inspiration are shared, there is hope for thousands of individuals and caregivers who may not see the possibilities.”
Since his return from Iraq, Matt has channeled his experience into a life of service, focusing particularly on helping veterans. His work with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and volunteering at non-profits like Wounded War Heroes of Louisiana, Support our War Heroes, and Gulf Coast Veterans and Friends illustrates his unyielding dedication to making a difference.
Besides his role as a dedicated advocate, Matt enjoys a fulfilling personal life. He is a loving husband, father to three children (including twins), and an active local community member, serving as the Property and Grounds Chairman at Covington Presbyterian Church.
This event at the Touro Rehabilitation Center aims to emphasize the transformative power of adaptive mobility solutions. Featured products from Superior Van & Mobility and powerful stories like Matt Cole remind us that limitations can be transcended with the right tools and support. The Automotive Mobility Awareness Tour drives change one city at a time through education and awareness.