Celebrating Romantic Relationships Among People With Disabilities

These stories are excerpts from a previous publication entitled “New Visions: The Power of Dreams.” New Visions was published in 2011 with the support of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. Featuring the stories of 20 individuals with disabilities, this anthology reflects the possibilities for individuals who have support from their communities. (These stories have been edited for length.)

Carrie Robb

Carrie has dreams typical of many people. She wants a better job, she wants to own her own home, and she wants to get better control over her diabetes by eating better and staying fit. But what she wanted most in the world was to get married.

Carrie & her partner smile together on a couch in black and white photoWhen she talked about her dreams with her Dream Team during her first Full Life Future Planning™ session, she talked a whole lot about the picture of the bride and groom that she included in her Dream collage (with her boyfriend’s name under the picture of the groom).

The dream of marriage was not news to her team, but they didn’t realize how important it was to her until then. After all, she had already been living with her boyfriend for several years. During that first session, Carrie’s mother told her, “Carrie, if this is that important to you, I think we can make this happen.”

Carrie and her boyfriend picked the most romantic day of the year, February 14, for their big event.

Carrie picked out a beautiful, lacy, Valentine-pink dress for her big day and looked absolutely stunning. But the most beautiful thing about her that day was not her dress or her hair or the makeup she wore. The most beautiful thing about Carrie was the smile on her face! Now, she wears that same beautiful smile whenever she shares the pictures of her cherished day with people when they visit.

Michele Armistead

Michele took part in a group Full Life Future Planning™ process with nine other people. Throughout the class, Michele identified many things that were important to her during the classes as time progressed. Many of the dreams she identified for herself were simple (like a new desk lamp), and many were more involved (like getting married and getting a job).  Most of Michele’s dreams involved family and friends that were closest to her.

A white woman in black & white photograph from about a decade ago.Michele was very quiet during the initial classes, but grew more open over time. She let her network know she was interested in nursing, and then she found a way to get involved. She discovered she wanted to work with animals; she started working at a pet shelter and loved it.

She and her boyfriend also dreamed of getting married. They talked with their families and had a commitment ceremony and a reception to celebrate their love for each other.

Now Michelle says, “If it wasn’t for this experience, I wouldn’t be doing all the cool things I am now. I used to be scared to ask people for what I wanted. Now I realize that I will never get what I want if I don’t ask. The class taught me that it’s okay to tell people what I want.”

How We Prepare for Bike the Drive

For the last four years, participant Caleb Streeter has joined our Bike the Drive Dream Team biking up Lake Shore Drive. Over these four years, the event has become a family tradition for the Streeters. Caleb’s father, Bill, joins the Dream Team too, and together they typically bike from Buckingham Fountain to Sheridan. But this year Caleb and his dad are looking for a challenge.

Caleb and his father smile at the camera, both wearing purple shirts and blue helmets“We’re going to start from downtown and go all the way to Sheridan this year. That’s 15 miles,” Caleb explains. “Plus, me and my dad’s church friend wanted to accompany us this year. We’ve been talking to him about it, and he decided this is the year to do it!”

Biking with the team is part of what makes Bike the Drive so much fun for Caleb. “It’s more enjoyable than riding by myself. I like having a person to talk to, somebody watching me. My dad and me are used to it because back home we bike together too.” Biking Lake Shore Drive with a team also means that Caleb can look out for his friends and family, and they can help him too.

How Caleb Is Getting Ready

Caleb wears green, the same as Lindsay on the left. Caleb is preparing for his 15-mile bike ride with longer rides, especially since the weather is finally getting warmer. But first, he needed to get his bike checked out at Wheel & Sprocket after the long winter. This year it was time for some upgrades for Caleb’s light gray Giant Revel bike. “I had to install new wheels because my old fat tires were getting hard to lock up outside my apartment, so I got thinner ones.” Caleb continued, “My bike seat was old and it kept getting loose. The bicycle people said I should get a new seat. It would just slip out, and I couldn’t deal with that anymore!”

In preparing for Bike the Drive, Caleb demonstrates responsibility and enthusiasm, but he knows to ask for help when he needs it. His tutor, Ricky, supported Caleb in figuring out how much air should go in his tires and how to secure his bike better after his old bike was stolen. With Ricky’s help, Caleb is more confident and safer when he is biking.

Caleb is excited to continue participating in Bike the Drive and our Bike Club. The club meets on Wednesdays, and Caleb joins Activities Director Jeff Morthorst and several other participants in biking around Evanston. The group often bikes around Northwestern University or along the lakeshore.

How You Can Help Caleb & the Dream Team

Caleb and his dad prepared for Bike the Drive together and stand in front of colorful mosaic wallThe Dream Team fundraises every year to support activities Independent Futures provides like Bike Club. Every dollar donated helps to keep our activities calendar full of exciting events. If you donate today, the funds you contribute will support supplies for Art Club, snacks for Saturday Cinema, and bicyclists in getting to and from Bike the Drive.

Explaining his favorite part of Bike the Drive, Caleb shared, “Doing Bike the Drive, you have a different vantage point than what you would normally see. It’s fun! I’m getting excited about it! The more people the better!”

With the support of our generous community, we hope to continue providing participants like Caleb with opportunities like Bike the Drive for many years to come. Donate today to help the Dream Team achieve their goals!

Join Dream Team on Lake Shore Drive

Join Center for Independent Futures for a biking experience like no other at MB Bike the Drive. On Sunday, May 26, 2019, Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive will be closed to cars, leaving an open expanse of road available to bikers. Watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan and take in stunning views of the city skyline as you soar down the open road.

When you ride with Center for Independent Futures’ Dream Team, you’ll be part of a team of individuals with and without disabilities, including participants, staff, board members, and friends. Our team members participate in this incredible event and raise funds for our programs and services in honor of their ride. Center for Independent Futures makes it easy to participate by supporting riders to sign up for the event, helping with fundraising, and taking care of transportation logistics on the day of the event.

How to Join the Dream Team

We offer incentives for different levels of fundraising, like a refund of your Bike the Drive registration fee and tickets to our annual events. All funds raised by our dedicated riders will support

Center for Independent Futures’ vision of a future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.

To learn more about Bike the Drive and to join the Dream Team, contact Jeff Morthorst at (847) 328-2044.

Support the Dream Team at Bike the Drive

The weather is getting warmer, and it’s starting to feel nice to step outside. Do you know what that means?

It’s time for Bike the Drive!

The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Lake Shore Drive closes to cars bright and early to prepare for many bikers’ favorite ride of the year. Bicycling magazine recently named Chicago the #1 biking city in America, so it’s no surprise that Lake Shore Drive will be packed with bicyclists throughout the morning.

Some of those bicyclists will be riding for our very own Dream Team. Center for Independent Futures participants and community members will be biking the drive, but they need your support!

Our community is biking to raise funds to support the Center for Independent Futures mission: creating innovative service models that support individuals with disabilities and their families to live full, independent lives. The Dream Team has a goal to raise $10,000, and you can help them get there!

How to Help the Dream Team

The team is busy biking and training for this big event, and we’re all getting excited. To support the team, visit our Bike the Drive Crowdrise fundraising page. You can donate online in support of whichever team member you choose — or you can support the team as a whole.

If you’re interested in riding with the team, reach out to the office to find out how to sign up and when to arrive. During this special event available just once a year, the opportunity to have a great time biking and support a wonderful community is a guaranteed fun day.

To learn more about the Dream Team and how to support our riders, contact Niki Moe at nmoe@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044.

Counting Down to Bike the Drive 2018

Chicago’s bikers are getting special treatment on Lake Shore Drive in just 53 short days! On May 27, the city is shutting down Lake Shore Drive to all vehicles for bikers to ride between the Museum of Science and Industry to Bryn Mawr on what we all hope will be a gorgeous Sunday. Bike the Drive 2018 is a wonderful opportunity to experience a piece of Chicago that most of us don’t get to see very often.

Past Dream Team poses for group photo prior to Bike the Drive 2018Center for Independent Futures Dream Team is riding again this year! Many of our bikers are riding to raise funds to support our mission: creating innovative service models that support individuals with disabilities in living full, independent lives. Like past years, you and your friends have the thrilling opportunity to ride alongside our vibrant community of bikers. All you need to do is register for Bike the Drive.

Once you have signed up for Bike the Drive 2018, you can make yourself a member of our fundraising team through CrowdRise, a site that hosts fundraisers for nonprofits. Signing up is easy, but if you need any help, please reach out to us.

Want to participate, but know biking isn’t really your thing? You can donate to Center for Independent Futures’ team directly, or you can donate to the account of one of our participants on CrowdRise.

The most unique bike ride of the year awaits — register today and then add yourself to our CrowdRise as a member of Team Center for Independent Futures!

For more information about this event, email Jeff Morthorst or call our Evanston office at (847) 324-2044.

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