Music and Disability | Friendly Wheels | Issue 31

Posted on Monday March 21, 2011

Keep a Song in Your Heart

Friendly Wheels, Issue 31
September 2010

Featuring Amigo owner Phillippa Eckert

Phillippa Eckert 2

Retired residents at Fleet Landing in Atlantic Beach, Fla. are enjoying a musical treat these days. Amigo owner Phillippa Eckert is tickling those ivories along with a few other musicians. The volunteer band performed at Fleet Landing’s Summer Follies program to a crowd of residents who gave them a standing ovation!

At eighty-four years young, Phillippa is experiencing the effects of post-polio syndrome. Now, only able to stand “just under a minute,” she has three Amigos. As a tax preparer in 1993, her first Amigo served as her desk chair. By 2000, Phillippa’s physician recommended the compact Amigo RT Express to use inside her home. In 2007, the Amigo RD took her “outside” and, today, she is fully independent and happily mobile.

Phillippa studied music as a child until she turned 14. In 1942, at the age of 16, she contracted polio and spent the next 18 months in the hospital. Forty years later, she was diagnosed with post-polio. After Phillippa and husband, Robert, moved to Fleet Landing — a fully accessible housing community of 400 residents — she decided to start practicing piano again. With good strength in her arms and fingers, post-polio has left her, however, with weak thumbs.

With a youthful exuberance that belies her 84 years, Phillippa says, “I was the first to arrive at Fleet Landing with an Amigo. No one else had one. Now they are all over.”

“I love Amigo and wouldn’t have any other kind. There has been very little maintenance. They are sturdy, reliable and I have no worries when riding them. I would never want to be in a wheelchair, because others peer down at you, they see you as less than you are and even drop things on you. I was on one once at Disney World and it was a horrible experience. My Amigos are my ‘amigos’ for sure.”

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