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Golf challenge to bring accessibility issues to light

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

After being diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy nine years ago, Jeremiah Higley now is taking matters into his own hands.

Higley, 32, of Stagecoach, said he has had too many experiences of being turned away from restaurants or unable to enter a building because he’s in a wheelchair. As a result, he and his mother, LaNona “Nonie” Higley, started the Jeremiah Higley Foundation, Inc., with the mission of bringing handicap accessibility to light.

“It’s very discouraging to go out and find a place that is not accessible,” Jeremiah Higley said.

So to help kick off their mission the Higleys are hosting a golf skills challenge Saturday at Empire Ranch Golf Course, 1875 Fair Way.

The event starts at 10 a.m. and costs $40 to participate, which is good for five swings at 10 different challenges around the golf course, including swinging a driver from a wheelchair and putting with a blindfold.

Extra swings will cost $5 and are limited to five per person. Raffle tickets are $3 and will be good for hotel and restaurant packages, a driver and a pair of tickets to a San Francisco 49ers game.

Nonie Higley said it’s not uncommon to find an inaccessible building.

“There’s quite a few areas that are not set up and able to handle wheelchair access,” Higley said. “I know it’s a law and a lot of businesses have just thrown whatever together.”

That has meant getting stuck in doorways that are not wide enough, or getting stuck on a poorly constructed ramp.

“And what we’re trying to do is educate the people and applaud the businesses that have given people outstanding accessibility,” Higley said.

Jeremiah Higley said he wants to start a television show that would feature handicap accessibility in the region.

“People who are in wheelchairs suffer from depression a lot,” Higley said. “They don’t know what’s accessible to them.”