Alumni |  Home |  Editorial |  Events |  About |  Schools |  News |  History |  Email |  Photos |  Maps

Minonk native's grandson has invention

Sunday, November 2, 2003 Posted 9:30 p.m.
Bill Miller operates his bowling apparatus for quadriplegics.

The grandson of a Minonk native has turned adversity into an opportunity. Bill Miller, grandson of Minonk native Lila Willems Miller, has developed an apparatus that enables quadriplegics to bowl. Miller, who is 26 and resides in Leesburg, Florida, has been confined to a wheelchair since 1997 when he tripped over an Ab-Roller - a piece of exercise equipment in his college dormitory room. His room-mates found him unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he realized that he was paralyzed from the neck down.

After being brought back to life three times while recovering in the hospital and overcoming depression, Miller eventually adapted to the life of a quadriplegic. He learned to operate a computer using voice recognition technology and can send email and play computer games like everyone else. However, he wanted more out of life. He wanted to be able to do something that would require mastery and control. This incentive led him to the development of the "Miller Bowler".

The "Miller Bowler" is a sophisicated metal ramp that attaches to the wheelchair. It still requires someone to place the bowling ball atop the ramp, but after that the person in the wheelchair determines how to release the ball. He or she decides the angle of approach, the speed, the point of release - all in the maneuvering of the chair which he controls from a mouthpiece that he blows into.

Miller felt that his bowler would be of interest to other quadriplegics as well. He and other wheelchair-bound friends meet each week to bowl together using the "Miller Bowler".

Miller developed the bowler with the help of Claude Giguere, a retired engineer, and Vince Tifer, who is also retired and has multiple sclerosis. The three formed a company called MGT Corp to produce and market the "Miller Bowler". Miller taught himself web design and designed the website for the new company at

Miller corresponds with many other quadriplegics and their families and offers advice and solace and helps advise doctors on how to treat quadriplegic patients.

Miller's grandmother Lila Miller, who is a 1943 graduate of Minonk Community High School, said that she is extremely proud of her grandson. She said that he is the most positive person that she knows and he is a joy to be around.