I was recently contacted by Evan French, a reporter from Inside Toronto media, who had heard about me from the organizers of the book signing event I attended last week. Here is the article...quite a good picture too! Thanks Evan!
Author shares his experiences on his world travels
Walt Balenovich, author of "Travels in a Bluechair" signed copies of his book recently at Mimico Memorial Park.
BY EVAN FRENCH August 8, 2008 11:41 AM
An Etobicoke backpacker has written a book about his travels around the world in his blue wheelchair.
Despite his disability, Walt Balenovich has made solo trips to 26 countries on six continents since 1988. He met with readers - in the rain - to sign copies of his book, Travels in a Blue Chair, at Mimico Memorial Park Tuesday.
Balenovich, who was diagnosed with polio when he was twelve-weeks-old, spent the first five years of his life in a hospital bed.
The biggest factor for disabled travellers is logistics, he said.
"You try to figure out what you can and cannot do," he said. "I'm not bothered when I can't do something."
As an IT consultant, he uses the time in between jobs to scope out potential adventures. He spends time researching trips to find out which areas are most wheelchair accessible, but said these days just about everything is 'do-able'.
"Western Europe is the best," he said. "And the States is better than Canada because of (the country's support for) all the disabled veterans."
He said he chose Holland for his first trip partially because he knew it was flat.
"I knew it was flat and everyone spoke English, in Amsterdam at least, so I could kind of get my confidence."
He said although he plans his trips carefully, things don't always go according to plan.
"When I was in Zambia, I fell out of my chair and broke my leg," he said. "When you're travelling alone in a wheelchair and you've got a broken leg and it's 35 hours back to Toronto, it can be a little problematic."
Balenovich said he wants to motivate all people, not just the disabled, to get out and see the world.
"When I need help I ask for it," he said. "If a guy in a wheelchair can do it, then anyone can."