Bennie Green is living with cerebral palsy, a central motor disorder that causes a multitude of physical disabilities, including movement impairment, poor muscle tone, and posture problems. The ailment is a congenital disorder, which arises around the time of birth and is caused by damage to the motor control parts of the brain. It can manifest any time from pregnancy through three years of age.
Bennie has lived at Sunrise Community in Miami for more than 39 years and, after over a year of planning, he recently took his first-ever vacation: a dream trip to Las Vegas! He says that after listening to someone who used to work with him talk about how much fun she had in the city, visiting Vegas became a dream of his, and he saved up money little by little for more than a year to make the trip.
Once he had the money together, he says, “It took about one week to plan the trip and ensure that all the details for the trip were covered. It took some research online and time on the phone with the airline and hotel to get all the details ironed out. I let the Palazzo know about all my physical needs when booking the room. They assured me that they would be able to accommodate me.”
In an era when there have been a lot of complaints about accessibility issues with airlines, Bennie had a pleasant experience on his very first plane flight: “I felt the airline staff were very helpful. They were able to transport me right to my seat. I flew in first class so my seat was at the very front and close to the bathroom. When I arrived they helped me off the plane and had my electric chair waiting for me.”
He was equally impressed with the hotel. “The room was way better than what I expected. I was on the 28th floor; my room overlooked some hotels on the strip and the beautiful mountains surrounding Vegas. I was honestly surprised because I thought the accessible rooms would be overlooking the parking lot. The room had shower bars, a roll-in shower, bars mounted on the toilet seat, a phone next to the toilet. It was completely accessible and the service in the hotel was first class. I felt like a rock star the way they treated me.”
Bennie had a blast during his trip, and was very impressed with the city, particularly with the friendly staff at the various establishments he visited. He enjoyed cruising the Las Vegas strip and found it very convenient that the sidewalks are one-way, which enabled him to move about without bumping into people. He saw two shows while he was there—Cirque du Soleil and Mannheim Steamroller—and found the accessible seating and layouts of the theaters exceptional. He also enjoyed playing the Wheel of Fortune game and slot machines.
“I would rate the accessibility of Vegas to be a ten out of ten,” he says. “I did not experience any accessibility issues.”
He has a few tips for other people with disabilities looking to take a Vegas vacation. “Make sure to call the hotel ahead of time and spell out your physical needs as they relate to accessibility. In other words, if you need an accessible shower tell them, elevated bed, toilet bars, etc. They are really happy to accommodate. Be sure to ask for help if you need it. My best tip is, if you need to travel with a personal support staff, be sure you pick someone who is outgoing and willing to try new things.”
Bennie is already saving for his next adventure! If you’ve been to Vegas, how would you rate the accessibility?