Setting out to prove living in a wheelchair is no barrier to enjoying the outdoors, social media influencer and blogger Nerissa Cannon was selected by nonprofit No Barriers USA and leading motorhome manufacturer Winnebago Industries to travel to the annual No Barriers Summit in Lake Tahoe, CA, in an accessibility-enhanced motorhome. Cannon’s road trip in the wheelchair-ready Adventurer 30T AE RV is being documented through the hashtags #JourneyToTheSummit, #SummitWithUs, and #WheelchairTravel among others, to highlight the importance of making nature and outdoor activities accessible to people of all abilities.
“When my mobility became restricted, I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to enjoy the outdoors in the same way I used to. It sent me into a terrible depression because that has always been such an important part of my life,” said Nerissa Cannon. “Since getting involved with the No Barriers Summit, I’ve learned how to be creative in using what abilities I do have. I’m more active now than I ever have been! I am grateful to No Barriers and Winnebago for their commitment to helping people break down barriers, get outdoors, and reconnect with their communities.”
Cannon, her partner, Kelsom Owens, and her service dog, Cash, leave today from Winnebago headquarters in Iowa to road trip to the No Barriers Summit in California. Following a send-off party from Winnebago, Cannon and crew are traveling through six states and visiting four national parks. They plan to arrive in Lake Tahoe, CA, just in time to attend the No Barriers Summit.
Cannon and company are traveling in a new Winnebago Adventurer 30T AE. The RV features one of three standardized floor plans where 40 percent of the interior is specifically redesigned for wheelchair accessibility, compared to a standard coach. The new line of wheelchair-friendly models released earlier this year is based on the company’s 40 years of experience customizing its models for customer accessibility. The standardization of floor plans includes the most commonly requested enhancements and can be further customized to meet an individual’s specific needs. With this new line of RVs, Winnebago aims to make the accessibility-enhanced option more visible to customers and as easy to purchase as a standard Winnebago.
“Customers with additional mobility requirements are looking for the same freedom from home that many RV owners seek and in many cases the ability to travel is much more meaningful. Over the past four decades, we’ve optimized our accessibility enhancements to take them beyond simple add-ons, to developing them into design features founded in countless real-world experiences and with Winnebago’s legendary construction standards,” said Ashis Bhattacharya, Vice President, Strategic Planning and Specialty Vehicles. “We are thrilled to support Nerissa and No Barriers in their effort to inspire people of all abilities to contribute their absolute best to the world and explore as much of it as possible.”
Winnebago and the Winnebago Industries Foundation also are providing support for No Barriers USA’s annual event, the No Barriers Summit, held this year in Lake Tahoe, CA, June 13–15. The No Barriers Summit is an annual event dedicated to helping people of all abilities realize that What’s Within You is Stronger than What’s in Your Way. The Summit inspires attendees through motivational speakers and performers and more than 30 adaptive activities to help attendees break through barriers. Notable alumni include Ice-T, Marlee Matlin, Kyle Maynard, Amy Purdy, J.R. Martinez, and Whitney Way Thore. This year, attendees will also be invited to tour the Winnebago Accessibility-Enhanced RV that Nerissa used in her road trip while it is on display at the summit.
“Our collaboration with Winnebago is a natural fit because of the company’s experience and dedication to providing wheelchair-ready RVs,” said No Barriers Executive Director and Co-Founder Dave Shurna. “The partnership is a testament to the missions of both organizations to encourage people to break through barriers, build deeper connections with the people around them, and find joy, freedom and adventure in the outside world.”
Registration for the No Barriers Summit is just $100 per person for three days of activities and programming. Tickets are still available online to the general public at www.nobarriersusa.org/summit.