Ian RuderMy first memory of NEW MOBILITY is wanting nothing to do with it. I was barely 18 and struggling on a ventilator in rehab a couple of months after blowing out my C5 vertebra in a rollover accident.

I had spent all my time surrounded by other people with spinal cord injuries, learning about spinal cord injuries, talking about spinal cord injuries and living with a spinal cord injury. When my parents offered me a copy of NEW MOBILITY, the last thing in the world I wanted was to read about spinal cord injury and the wheelchair life that awaited me beyond the hospital walls.

If you had told me that 20 years later I would be the editor of NEW MOBILITY, I feel pretty confident that I would have told you there was a better chance I’d be walking by then. But here I am, feeling out the Bully Pulpit and formally introducing myself to you, the readers.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of you over the last seven years. I started as a sporadic contributor to the website, then worked as the editor of sister publication Life in Action, and finally served as an editor and writer for NEW MOBILITY the last four years.

Whether via email, phone call or even the occasional fax, you’ve shared your honest responses and insights, and in doing so, helped to educate me and strengthen the magazine. I have grown to so cherish the relationships I’ve made, that it’s hard for me to believe I almost closed myself off from them.

After I got out of rehab I focused on me. I went to college, learned to manage personal care attendants, negotiate government benefits and handle all the other fun stuff that comes with an injury. I didn’t have any wheelers in my inner circle, and I saw no need to change that.

If not for a fortuitous meeting with NM Executive Editor Josie Byzek in 2010, I might have stayed on that path. I met Josie at an advocacy event in Washington, D.C., and pitched myself as the answer to all the magazine’s writing needs. She gave me a chance to write an article for NewMobility.com, and, well, the rest is history.

Working with the NM staff under the aegis of United Spinal brought me into a rich world I feel foolish for having ignored. Much of my writing prior to NEW MOBILITY focused on sports. It was fun, but often left me feeling empty. Writing about other wheelchair users and the issues we all face every day proved more challenging but infinitely more rewarding.

I’ve learned so much about how little I knew about disability, and I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the strength of our community and the richness of our stories.

I’ve also seen how important it is that we tell these stories in an authentic way, not only for our own well-being but so others can begin to understand the complex lives we lead. For 29 years, NEW MOBILITY has been at the forefront of doing just this, and I’m honored and excited to keep forging ahead with you.