My 3 yr old niece broke a Guinness World Record!

The Christopher & Dana Reeve foundation and Life Rolls On celebrated the Americans w/Disabilities Act (ADA) 20yr anniversary by setting a Guinness World record for the most moving wheelchairs in a line at the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium yesterday.  193 people; young and old, big and small came to make history and my baby niece Maile was apart of it. Can I get a “WOOT WOOT” :-). Maile was born with spina bifida and has taught me so much about life, courage, strength and love in the short 3 years she has been in my life. She is such a blessing and it was so great to be there to cheer her on in the record breaking moving line!

My day started very early at 6:45am. Yes, SIX FORTY FIVE…AM. I don’t even remember the last time I got up before 7am on a Sunday. In fact, last Saturday I didn’t even go to bed until 8am! LOL. Anyway, when I arrived at the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium, I came with camera in tow to capture this special day since we would be making history. I was amongst some incredibly amazing people who really gave me such a profound appreciation for what so many of us take for granted. WALKING.

Once Maile checked in, she was given a Superman – go forward dog tag. It was so symbolic, not just because Christopher Reeve was the original Superman, but all of these individuals are in fact heros. Of course big sister Malia was there to support Maile and to get in on all the action.

They had a few giveaways, motivational speeches and even a group of wheelchair dancers called CHAIRLES ANGELS.  Yes, you read right…dancers. These girls were professional dancers, all of whom had an accident of some sort years ago. They never knew each other before being wheelchair bound, but came together over the years and decided that nothing was going to stop them from dancing. They got up on stage and did a little routine for us…danced and showed us that life is really what you make of it. One of the girls sang a song, “I’m Alive” and it really makes you appreciate the small things in life. They were very inspirational and my little niece Maile looked on with such hope and joy, it really put a smile on my heart. So, the next time you are having a bad day or are stressed about something, remember, it could always be worse and be thankful for all the good you do have in your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff people, live life.

It was a rather short event, so quickly after the speeches and raffles, they wanted to get an aerial shot of all wheelchairs spelling out ADA (American with Disabilities Act). Maile was getting a little tired and was off to the side, but I wanted to make sure she was included in that historical photo, so I whisked her to the front row and placed her at the very end, so it would be easy to spot her when that photo is printed. She remained there until the photographer on the boom had 2 people move up to her row, so instead of being the tip, she is two chairs in. Still easily identifiable though. Psshh, photographers can be so demanding and bossy at times! LOL :-). Anyway, the sun started to blare over the mountains and beam strongly into the sea of wheelchairs, so Maile had her cool shades, a safari hat and her dee-dee. Then it was all good.

After the group shot, they quickly lined everyone up to get the count of wheelchairs (which was 193, breaking the old record of 106).  But, remember…the record wasn’t just to count them in a line, it was for all wheelchairs in a moving line, so the clock didn’t start until each one was in motion. This took a little longer than anticipated, but once they got rolling, the clock started ticking and Maile wheeled her way into history. Once we broke the record, she was given a certificate and then notified we all had 15 minutes to get out of the stadium since there was an LA Dodger game starting soon. Then it was time to celebrate, so I insisted we go get some awesome cupcakes from Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. Wooo-hooo. Awesome day!



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  • Michelle - What an amazing event!! Its awesome that so many people participated in this record breaking moment. These photos totally capture the hope and courage of everyone there.

  • irene - OMG! That brought tears to my eyes… It was an awesome day and Maile never ceases to amaze me and teach me about life too. Thank you….so beautiful.

  • Momma Goose - WOW!!! AWESOMELY AMAZING!!! What a beautiful article cousin. It was a tear jerker, but it really makes one think of the small things we gripe about. When we really don’t have that right. Maile is the most precious Gift from God. And He gave her to the most amazing mother and father. Your are right, she has taught and will continue to teach others that are blessed to meet her, the gift of love, grace, will, strength, and endurance. She has the eyes of an Angel, and the spirit of Love in her soul. I can feel it, by just looking at her photos. Yes, you have been blessed by her life, and everyone else that knows her. I love you cousin, and thank you for sharing this wonderful and great story with the world. I am so very proud of Maile, and her big sister Malia…, and most proud of you my cousin, for showing the world what it is to truly love someone.

  • rozsa - These are some beautiful pictures. I enjoyed reading the blog also. Your nieces are a couple of cutie-pies!

  • Sally - What an event. You must be so proud of your niece. Great photos!

  • Robbie Painter - Well, it has taken 30 minutes for us to dry the tears and compose ourselves enough to write! Your essay and the photos capture every minute and every emotion. Thank you so much for sharing this very special day with everyone. We were honored and happy that we could be there in person but your photos have touched us very deeply and permanently. Maile is and will always be an incredibly important influence for all of us. And your words and pictures show what a wonderful and helpful big sister Malia is. Thank you.
    Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Robbie

  • Chenny - Wow..That was a heart filled event..she is an angel and I am glad that she was able to be a part of history.

  • Ashley - What an awesome event and a precious little girl! I love events/things that put life into perspective :)

  • gayla - Thank you everyone for the great compliments. This was a very special event and I was so proud to be apart of it. All of these individuals had their own stories; some born with a disability, others victims of a tragic accident, some athletes or a war vet. You name it, there was a ride range of wheelchair super heros. I admire all of them and look at life with a different perspective. One speaker said, “we need to make people aware, simply things are not that simple; like walking down stairs”. God Bless them all!

  • Larry Sapp - WOW! Thanks for posting on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Facebook page! I was there at the event and saw your sweetheart of a niece pass by me a couple of times and my heart swelled and my face smiled big time! I have been a paraplegic from a spinal cord injury for 15 years and she moved around in her wheelchair better and more natural than me! That is on a personal note – on a professional – two things – first you are an incredible photographer! I didn’t look around beyond this page (so far) but I don’t need to to know you are very talented. I love these images on this page from the event. Second, is that I am a filmmaker and have told people that I provide the authentic representation of those with a disAbility in movies and television not only for those of us in the business (or trying to be in the business despite stereotypes and discrimination) but also for all people with a disAbility who like going to movies – to have their own voices and heroes in movies and television! And sometimes I make it a point to highlight kids using a wheelchair or with other disAbilities – and I did find a picture from the Reeve Foundation page, of a couple other kids at the event, that I used in my latest blog entry about the event, the 20th Anniversary and Hollywood! Wish I had found you and your photos first as I would’ve asked to use one of these incredible images instead! Well maybe next time. Meanwhile thanks again for sharing on the Facebook page so I could find you and find out who that wonderful little girl was that brightened my day and motivates me to keep on working toward making a permanent change in Hollywood! Take care!

  • Barbara Yasuhara - Gayla this post is absolutely beautiful!!!! I cannot begin to tell you how moved I am at seeing these photos and reading about your niece’s triumph! I use to think that starting a day in tears wasn’t such a good idea, but my tears are of joy, and I just LOVE how you captured the spirit!

    Your niece is absolutely a cutie pie! I love the shot of her with her certificate…PRICELESS!!!!!

    I also love the shot of the three folks looking at their iphones? Too funny! Brings warmth and a giggle to my heart, so many are busted doing that everywhere!

    Congrats! Keep up the great work!

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