By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
February 20, 2022
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Linda Hood has quite the resume.
The clinical scientist has volunteered at the Olympics since 1984, she’s a marathoner and she’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
“She’s full of life,” her husband, Richard Smith, said.
Now she’s climbing another kind of obstacle. As her husband explains, it happened when they were dating in 2018.
“She called me, she always called me when she was traveling, to let me know she got on the plane,” Richard Smith said. “She said, ‘Rick, my legs are kind of weak. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what’s going on.’ I said, ‘Linda, stay home and go to the doctor first thing in the morning.’ She said, ‘No, I just need a good night sleep.’ So she came and by the time she got there, she could not walk.”
Doctors say Hood contracted a rare autoimmune disease from eating bad chicken – Guillain-Barr syndrome – which paralyzed her body. But it stirred her soul.
“Things are gonna get better in every situation that you are in,” Hood said. “I have strong faith, and I believe that we are here for a reason, a short time, not a long time. In the time we are here, we have to make a difference, not for us but for others.”
She’s become something of an inspiration at M Health Fairview’s Achievement Center, and she achieved the crown of Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota. And with a new title – and new headwear – she hopes to change bathrooms, of all things.
“I have literally changed Linda on hospital floors, bathroom floors, many airport floors, bathroom floors and many other places, many times and it’s not comfortable,” Smith said. “So yes, she is definitely gonna be passionate about it.”
She wants adult changing tables in all of Minnesota’s major buildings.
“I just hope that some of the powers that be will hear me and say, ‘I wanna help, I wanna show her when she comes to US Bank Stadium to cheer on the Vikings that look, there’s a bathroom for her.’ And not just for me but for everyone in this situation,” Hood said.
“When she starts something, she’s gonna finish it, she’s gonna ride it out,” Smith said. “I guarantee you it’s going to happen because she is gonna stay on it until it does happen.”
“We need to leave this planet better than the way that we found it, for everybody,” Hood said.
There’s no doubt this queen will do just that.
This is really a grassroots effort for Hood. She is trying to get attention and support in trying to make public bathrooms more inclusive and accessible.