Every once in a brief while you meet a truly beautiful soul. That beautiful soul was Melanie Issacs and she forever changed mine and my son’s life with her solution to a problem that we didn't even know we could overcome.
I became resolved to the fact that we just wouldn't go out with Ricky.
Melanie saw us. She really, truly made us feel seen in a world that often times prefers to have special needs families hidden away. It is OK if we're in public, as long as we're not having meltdowns, and society acknowledges our existence, just so long as they don't have to make eye contact with us.
I became resolved to the fact that we just wouldn't go out with Ricky, because making the decision to just stay home hurt a lot less than being forced home later by stares in stores, or servers telling you you're disturbing the other patrons.
But with Melanie and Pal Experiences came a whole new world. One where businesses partnered to create tools for families like ours so we could prepare our son before going out. Soon a network was available of venues that finally felt safe. We went to the Children's Museum, a Phoenix Suns Game, we walked on the field before a Diamondbacks game. All because of Melanie's belief that everyone should get to go.
Everyone gets to go now because of Melanie...
Taking the mission of Pal Experiences a step further, Melanie created a special Pal Guide for Ricky so he could go on his first plane ride to meet his 96 year-old great grandma. And, oh boy, was he the best little traveler I had ever seen! He made going through security at the airport look like a breeze because Melanie's guide taught him everything he needed to know.
Everyone gets to go now because of Melanie and her decision to promote inclusion, her decision to take accessibility to the next level, and her decision to see and love every ability.
Hana Ruzsa is a single mother of two - her son Ricky, who was born with Koolen de Vries Syndrome, and younger daughter Olivia. She works as a graphic designer in Arizona, and is very active in the local nonprofit community, helping further missions that serve those with different abilities.