'Unstoppable' woman plans to cross state in wheelchair

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 3 at 8:00 PM

Most kids think they have the greatest mother in the world, but Michael Finlayson’s mom has some pretty lofty credentials.

“She can do all these crazy things,” said the 7-year-old. “She inspires me in ways I can’t even describe.”

Tania Finlayson is a college graduate, owned her own business, and is even a certified skydiver with more than 40 jumps to her credit. Those accomplishments would be impressive for anybody, but they’re even more so for Tania. She was born with Cerebral Palsy, has been confined to a wheelchair her entire life, and communicates through morse code via a computer keyboard. Her body has always been imprisoned, but her spirit has always been free.

Now, with the help of some of her husband Ken’s machinists' union brothers at Boeing, Tania is off on another adventure.

“I've found that it's safer for me to get behind her on these things than to try to stand in her way,” said Ken. “Once she sets her mind to something she will do it. She’s unstoppable.”

The gang at Boeing fitted Tania’s wheelchair with a generator that will power a 300-mile trek through Washington and Oregon. She’s hoping to raise $42,000 for Guide Dogs of America. That’s the amount needed to train one seeing eye dog.  She chose that particular charity because despite all of her disadvantages, Tania knows things can always be worse.

“I reflected on how lucky I was to have my sight and the independence that it allows me to have,” she said.

Tania has been training for months. She expects to travel the 300 miles in four, 15-hour days. The time in the chair will take a toll on her body. She’ll take the Seattle to Portland bike trail and then continue south to Dallas, Oregon. It'll be hard, but that's the point.

“The wind tends to go against me more than I would like, but I have not let that stop me,” she said. “I will adjust my sails.”

Tania's husband, Ken, will be at her side on his bike for much of the trip and Michael will ride in the union's support van. Tania considers Michael her greatest accomplishment. She gave birth to him despite a complicated pregnancy, and some who doubted her ability to be a complete parent. Michael, however, can't imagine life any other way.

“I'm really lucky to have her,” he said. “She really is the greatest mom in the world.”

Tania was originally planning to travel from her home in Kirkland to Spokane, but she says the Department of Transportation would not allow her wheelchair on I-90. Undeterred, she simply changed her route.

Said Ken, “I think the message is, there's really no excuses. If Tania can do this to help other people, anybody can go out of their way a little bit to help other people.”

You can donate to Tania’s cause by going to http://dashforcash.kintera.org or
http://www.guidedogsofamerica.org/1/2013/04/spokane-dash-for-puppy-cash/

You can track her travels at https://www.facebook.com/Spokanedash4puppycash

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