Posted on Thursday February 4, 2021

Growing up, David Walter saw warning signs that he was not like the others. He was active in sports, but was a toe runner and never as fast as the others. A series of events lead to his diagnosis, but the tipping point came in January of 2004. David had just come inside from shoveling his parents’ driveway and slipped and fell on some melted snow. He struggled when standing and was alarmed by the difficulty. After a neurologist referral and a biopsy, David was officially diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy at 16 during his high school sophomore year.

David grew up in St. Johns, MI, with two older sisters and an identical twin brother. He graduated from high school in 2006 and attended Central Michigan University. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Logistics Management and Marketing. In his junior year of college, he met his now-wife, Amanda. They currently reside in Aubrey, TX, with their now 3-year-old twin boys.

Off to College

David became an Amigo user during his senior year of high school as he was preparing for college. He needed a device that would help reduce muscle fatigue while navigating campus and allow for more independence. David was referred to Amigo Mobility by a neurologist from Michigan State’s Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) clinic. David quickly learned that a mobility device was just what he needed. This led to him to owning his first Amigo of four in the subsequent years.

Go and See 

David genuinely believes he would not be where he is today if it were not for his Amigo. “It has allowed me the freedom and maneuverability to live a full and rewarding life. The compact and rugged design allows me to travel for my job easily.” David is a Logistics Planning & Projects senior analyst with Toyota Motor North America. A vital principle of the Toyota Production System is Genchi Genbutsu. This “go and see” idea suggests that to understand a situation one needs to observe what is happening where work takes place. His Amigo, makes David Walter’s monthly “go and see” travel to plants and cross docks would not be possible. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he flew 20 times in 2020 with his Amigo! 

Toyota- Mobility for All

Toyota is becoming a mobility company, on a mission to offer “mobility for all.” Aligning with the principle of respect for people, visitors with mobility challenges have the option of using a mobility tram for plant tours, and employees have access to several Business Partnering Groups (BPG’s). ToyotAbility, a BPG of which David is a member, is grounded on respect for people and promoting mobility awareness in a safe, supported environment where they value input.

Disability as Strength 

Allowing him to build unique relationships and opportunities, David has come to view his disability as a strength. Through advocating, he has created guest accessibility to manual wheelchairs and Amigos while on campus. David has worked with HR and other teams at Toyota to:

  • Reserve a dedicated parking space
  • Create new travel accommodation standards
  • Install additional push buttons on doors throughout campus
  • Develop a Team Member Disability Etiquette & Awareness Training Curriculum
  • Worked on a cross-functional project that resulted in two patents pending

David Walter’s Tips for Making Workdays Easier and More Accessible

  • Take one day at a time and try not to worry about what is outside of your control. 
  • Be open and honest with those around you. Communication is key. If you need something, speak up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  • Embrace creative problem solving to overcome challenges!
  • Find your value and celebrate your uniqueness.

 With a positive and cheerful outlook on family life and career, David Walter says he would be “nowhere near where I am today without the love, patience, and support from my wife Amanda, family, and friends. With you, the fight continues.”

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