“I was in a wreck when I was 17 and a senior in high school. It was raining and I hydroplaned and was thrown from the car. I wasn’t speeding or hit by anyone. It just happened. When I landed, I broke my back and I have been in a wheelchair ever since. I lived Atlanta and was fortunate to go to the Shepherd Center where they were ahead of the curve in understanding life after wheelchair. They believe anything is possible, including a normal life. I was in a group environment with others going through the same recovery. I went to the University of Illinois to college and where they have one of the largest wheelchair sports programs. I was an athlete and played basketball, soccer, track, swimming, and cheerleading, so I jumped into wheelchair sports. I met so many good people with disabilities who helped me through. Physical fitness helped a lot. The stronger I got the more confident I became and I started having fun again. I learned how to have the normal life I wanted. It was a hard struggle but I had so much love and support. People were always praying for me, telling me I have got this and I am going to be okay. This was also at a time when people with disabilities were hidden from view. I was the only person I had ever met in a wheelchair. This should be a world where people with all disabilities are in it.
God has given me a spirit of hope and positivity. I have also been blessed with children and a husband who never thought my disability would hold us back as a couple. I knew him in high school and was driving to meet him at a football game on the night of the accident. He visited me in the hospital, but I told him I wasn’t ready for dating or anything. It would be a long time before I was ready. We met again when I was 33. I was out with my sister on a Friday night. He walked in the door and up to us. He got my number and we were engaged three months later. Neither one of us had been married.
There was once a time when I thought everything was so much easier when I could walk. That is gone now and the wheelchair is second nature. I have the same worries every mom has. I don’t have enough time. I lost my patience or could have done something better. I just want to watch my kids grow up happy and become the amazing people I see in them. I want to grow old with my husband and have many more adventures with him.”