Ambassadors Impact Lives on the Show Floor and Beyond
By Margarita Elizondo, CEO and Founder of Rolling With Me and Abilities Expo Ambassador
IIn order to truly show the community that you serve how much you love them, the most empowering thing you can do is add them to your team to serve alongside you.
Abilities Expo Ambassadors are leaders in the community with a multitude of talents that don't just inspire, they get people excited about the possibility they too can dance, try a new sport, start a business, become a parent, write a book, advocate a cause and, simply put, live life to the fullest. Meet our ambassadors!
What Do Ambassadors Do Before and at Abilities Expo
Before each show we get super excited and remind all our friends and family on social media that a show is coming up. We let them know if we will be speaking, performing or helping at a vendor booth. We often get the opportunity to do outreach to local organizations and companies who have products that would be great to highlight at the shows.
When I wear that orange or purple shirt at the Expo, it's is like wearing a crown! Everyone knows you are an Ambassador. It's an honor and awesome opportunity to engage guests, answer questions, reunite with old friends and meet new ones!
What Happens After the Expo?
Let me give you some background information about me and share a short story before I answer this question.
I have been a Los Angeles Abilities Expo Ambassador now since 2016. In June, I attended the Chicago Abilities Expo as an Ambassador for both Wheel:Life and the Abilities Expo. There I had the opportunity to lead my first dance workshop at a show called, Anyone Can Dance! Following the demo, lots of people approached me to tell me how great of a time they had and how motivated they were after seeing me, a power wheelchair user who is paralyzed from the chest down, move to music like I do.
Then the most impactful person of my entire life approached me and said, "It's such an honor to meet you! Meeting you was on my bucket list!" This young girl did not look much older than 18 to me and she had the brightest smile I've ever seen. Then she went on to tell me her name, Melisa Mayber.
Melisa then explained her "bucket list."
"I have 15 different conditions and I don't let it stop me. I can't eat or drink and haven't for almost a year. The feeding tube is no longer an option, so I'm fed through my veins with a system called TPN ICOS gastroparesis. I have a congenital heart defect, tracheomalacia DYT1, SMA type 3 dystonia brittle bone syndrome, autism, half deaf, half blind, the start of organ failure, plus I am C-4/5 SCI. Sometimes the bad conditions help make great friends. I have been following you on social media for a while now and wanted to fly out to San Diego before I die, but then I found out you were coming to Chicago. Thank you for making my dream come true."
Melisa fears she may only have a few months left to live. Of course, I started crying. My daughter and coworker watched as I hugged her crying and I kept crying after she left. Me on someone's bucket list? Really, I thought to myself! We have remained friends on Facebook and Melissa has become my motivation as an ambassador on and off the shows.
So, what happens after the Expo? The answer is: Abilities Expo Ambassadors continue being the heart of the show. We show the community why this industry so important. From vendors to organizations, at the end of the day, we are all about empowering the disability community to achieve their highest potential and live their lives to fullest!
If you would like to help Melissa Mayber keep that beautiful smile and spirits high as she and her family prepare for her end of life care expenses, you can do so by purchasing a bracelet for her cause. Contact her directly on Facebook. Her family has also set up a gofundme page.
And Abilities Expo Ambassadors are just a few clicks away. If you have questions about disability-related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to help you!
I Look Forward to Meeting You
If you live in the Bay Area you cannot miss Abilities Expo San Mateo on October 26, 27 and 28. I will be there again performing and teaching my workshop, Anyone Can Dance! Be sure to meet all the Abilities Expo Ambassadors, remember we are the ones wearing the orange and purple shirts. You can't miss us and we would love to meet you, too!
About the Author:
Margarita Elizondo, AKA Maggie, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, founder of Rolling With Me, model, dancer and writer. She was paralyzed in 2006 when an intruder broke into her home and shot her. She is a C-6/7 quadriplegic. Her work has been published in various publications including: Abilities.com, The Abilities Buzz, Wheel:Life and Mobile Women. She is also a disability marketing consultant teaching disability etiquette and appropriate representation and inclusion of individuals with a disability in the market, media and society.
As Ms. Wheelchair California 2013 title holder, she is a strong advocate in the disability community and volunteers for numerous organizations. She the recipient of Channel KPBS & Union Bank's Ability Awareness Hero of the Year Award 2016 and has received numerous other awards and recognitions for her work in the community. Margarita enjoys spending her spare time with her three granddaughters. Despite being a disabled single mother, she has proudly raised three children who continue her legacy of servitude: her daughters serve on the board of Rolling With Me and her son serves in the U.S. Army. You can contact her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @margarita.marguetelizondo, @rollingwith_me, @embraceurlimits and @margaritaelizondo_official.
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