When Ken jumped into a lake and broke his neck it changed his life forever, little did I know that it would change mine too.
I lived as a roommate of Ken’s for a few years in the mid-1990’s and at the time worked close with him helping out with his voice assisted computers and software. Back then, it was a pretty big deal to control an operating system like Windows without a mouse (he always called me “Mouseman”). But Ken was determined to get that pecking stick out of his mouth and “just talk to the damn computer.”
Ken wasn’t happy being “on the system”. Before his accident he was a Crew Chief for the Air National Guard fixing the fighter jets at Truax Field in Madison. He was over 6’3” and weighed at least 220 lbs, strong and fit. He loved his work and earned the nickname “Grinder”.
Immediately after the accident, while lying in a bed that swung and a trachea to breathe, Ken mouthed to anyone that would listen to please kill him. In that frightful world of post-accident, facing a life paralyzed from the neck down, the thought of death outweighed the will to live.
Of course, the wish was never granted and Ken devised a plan to kill himself. He would work to become independent, get a wheelchair he could operate by himself and drive it off the peer into lake Mendota at UW’s Union. He figured no one would be able to save him in a 500lb chair. He was right.
So he worked his way to a wheelchair that was operated by “Sip n’ Puff”, a straw that control’s the chair with your breath, and started taking drives by himself, and one fateful day, drove to the Union and on to the peer… and he stopped. As he looked out over the water he contemplated his life. He realized that he could now end his life at any time he chose, so he decided to live.
That’s when Ken embarked on his college journey and to become independent of the system, even as a “Person with a Disability”, or a “gimp” as he referred to himself.
A Bachelor degree came first, then a Master’s and then became a pioneer in the Pathways To Independence program to get people with disabilities back to the workplace, which at the time was practically unheard of. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson even mentioned Ken’s name in his 2000 State of the State address. He worked, went to school, bought a house and achieved his goals, he was living the American dream…. Kind of.
But Wisconsin was too cold for Ken, he couldn’t regulate temperature well and got hypothermia very quickly. He longed to move to California and when the opportunity came along, sold the house, headed west, got married and enjoyed life every single day. He met challenge after challenge that would make most cower, all without moving a finger.
Ken was a lover of music. It was one of the things that kept him sane. And he loved his music loud.
Ken always took great pride that Maximum Ink started while I was living “in his basement”. He was there and witnessed the beginning. I moved out from Ken’s after I decided to get marry Allison Rocker. He will always be remembered in our annals and be a source of inspiration in hard times.
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Ken Adell 1962 - 2011 and to his wife and family. Ken will forever live in our memories.
Marty Lamphier also passed away last month. Some of you may have seen him at the Last Crack show in November hanging with his g-friend Lisa H. He was a lover of music and a friend of Maximum Ink. He will be missed.
Adventures with Nikolai: Everybody knows Nikko loves Lego’s. Especially “Star Wars” Lego’s. And that’s exactly what he got during the holidays and his birthday. The Star Wars Turbo Tank was the crown jewel and it contained two large books of instructions as well as 1141 pieces.
I was impressed watching him build it, meticulously going through each step and needing my help only a few times.
He also built Boba Fett’s Slave I, Count Dooku’s ship, a Droid Starfighter, and a plethora of smaller ships, speeders, and walkers.
A special thanx to Grandmas, Grandpas, Uncles, Sisters, Cousins and Friends who made it so special for Nikolai.(5015) Page Views