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Dana Watten: Challenge Rather than Accept the Status Quo

as Recorded by Mary O'Hara Anderson

Dana Watten was born in August of 1936. On July 15, 1954 at the age of 17, Dana had a diving accident that left him a quadriplegic. At that time Dana lived with his mother and stepfather. He also had an older brother who no longer lived at home.

Dana's mother Marie worked outside the home for two years after the accident. Dana still has stretchmarks under his arm from the position he had to be in all day while his mom was at work.

He could not have the head of the crank style bed up while he was alone because if he had a spasm, he would fall out of bed. When his mom came home from work, Dana would get up in his manual wheelchair, and people would push him around the neighborhood.

Manual wheelchairs and crank hospital beds were all that existed then. When technology advanced, Dana was one of the first to get an electric hospital bed. However, the controls were located at the side of the bed, so he could not control the bed himself.

Dana Watten outside 
of Seward Square
Dana Watten outside of Seward Square

Eight years after his accident, power wheelchairs became available. When Dana got his first power wheelchair, he felt as if he had a pair of wings. He now had some independence. The cost of Dana's first power wheelchair was $900. When he purchased a new chair in 1995, the cost had increased to $6,000.

In 1976, Dana moved into a nursing home and was there for about a year. While he was in the nursing home, his mother Marie remained a constant support. Dana attributes his ability to survive during these more than twenty years to Marie and his stepfather Al.