My Journey of Being Crowned Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2022

The culmination of my life’s work thus far to being crowned Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2022 in November 2021 is one of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, determination, support, and unrelenting determination …

… People frequently question how I have arrived to where I am today to be a professional, disability advocate, mentor, and a ferociously “Pleasantly Persistent” woman with the motto: “NO is just a starting negotiation point.”

…. Through all of this I was approached to apply to run for Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina in November, 2021. I met some incredible ladies who are now lifelong friends and I had such an amazing weekend. My specific platform for the competition was health insurance advocacy for medically necessary durable medical equipment …

… Don’t get me wrong, it’s an honor to have won this competition and I will compete in July 2022 for Nationals, but it really was and is the collaboration between individuals with disabilities that sparks my pure joy! …

…. Here is one quote I live by “Luck is the Residue of Design” – if you design your life in such a way to constantly have opportunities presented to you even if other opportunities fail, you have a higher probability of “Lucky” things happening for you.

With that, wish me luck at Nationals, but the work will not stop over the next eight months.  I have so many big plans, many of which I’m sure will lead me down unfamiliar roads, but I’m making sure I have plans A-Z in place at every turn to course correct in my own life. This is the key to lasting change and success …

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine:

ABC 11 – News Story – Ms. Wheelchair NC 2022

I’m so honored and extremely grateful for a shout out from the team, especially Diane Wilson, at abc11 News on the healthcare advocacy work I am working on in the community and my Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2022 title this past weekend !

https://abc11.com/ms-wheelchair-nc-2022-raleigh/11243052/

Independence on the Water – My Adaptive Kayaking Experience

A life with paralysis entails much more than meets the eye at first glance. There are a whole host of secondary complications many of us who are wheelchair users can attest to, myself included, as a C6 quadriplegic. However, this does not stop so many of us from continuing to live our lives to the best of our ability and participating in a community, albeit in an adapted capacity.

It’s one thing to find a job, take care of our bodies, and navigate a system in society that is not yet fully integrated with respect to accessibility. It is quite another, however, to find incredible non-profit organizations around the country whose sole mission is to enrich the lives of those with physical mobility impairments so that those of us with disabilities can enjoy, not just trying to survive our lives, but thrive as well. One such non-profit organization called Bridge2Sports in North Carolina has made it their mission to assist people with physical disabilities to participate in an array of accessible and adaptive sports such as wheelchair basketball, Boccia, hand cycling, kayaking, archery, air rifle, goalball, and golf.

It is organizations like these that allow many of us with disabilities to feel connected, build community, and enjoy physical sports despite our physical mobility limitations. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation offers Quality of Life Grants to organizations such as Bridge2Sports to enrich our lives beyond our daily responsibilities.

Read the rest on the Christopher Reeve Foundationhttps://www.christopherreeve.org/blog/life-after-paralysis/independence-on-the-water-my-adaptive-kayaking-experience

PODCAST with Kevin Lowe

I was the guest on a super cool podcast with the most amazing gentleman named Kevin Lowe.

Kevin has an incredible story in his own right and he certainly makes the most of life with his incredibly quirky, and hilarious sense of humor.

Kevin too, shares a disability with me, but his is in the realm of sight. He is blind and has navigated his life so eloquently, with grace, and a ton of humor.

We had such a fabulous time during this podcast that I felt like I was chatting with an old friend who I had known for years!I would love for you to check out his podcast and start listening to him!

Balancing Disability Advocacy & A Professional Career

I’m super honored to be a contributing writer to the CHRISTOPHER & DANA REEVE FOUNDATION.

When you believe in something larger than yourself, it’s quite extraordinary what you are able to accomplish. After becoming a complete C6 quadriplegic in 2010, it took me quite a few years and multiple long stents in the hospital to come to the realization that I simply had to find a coping mechanism for living an entirely new life in a very different body.

Read the rest …

Balancing disability advocacy & a professional career – Reeve Foundation

A Life Through the Lens of Dark Humor

The absurdity of spinal cord injury with respect to the fact that being paralyzed is oftentimes the least of your challenges as compared to the endless secondary medical complications, caregiving challenges, financial burdens, to name a few, can turn a perfectly sane individual into one who is tinkering on the edge of insanity.  The question remains is how do so many of us with these life altering changes cope with, what can only be described at times, as a revolving circus carnival of animals? 

We each develop and build upon our own coping mechanisms as the year’s progress and as we become a little bit older and wiser in spinal cord injury years.  For me, dark humor is, bar none, my number one savior to get me through most days.

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How Expensive is it to be a Quadriplegic? A Grim Reality

Becoming a quadriplegic and being paralyzed from the chest down may appear to be the most challenging life altering event many may ever go through in their life.  However, leaving aside the endless secondary complications that can arise from living a life with paralysis such as pressure sores, nerve pain, respiratory issues, osteoporosis, infections, bowel obstructions, bladder incontinence, to name a few, can, often times, pale in comparison to the financial burdens associated with living a life with paralysis.  The financial hardships associated with any type of disability, one could argue, is more debilitating than the disability itself!

For the purposes of this article I’m going to be discussing some of the financial challenges and realities of living a life as a quadriplegic as opposed to a paraplegic.  In general, a quadriplegic needs round-the-clock care to help with basic functions such as going to the bathroom, eating, dressing, etc.  While every injury is different and there are certainly some quadriplegics who I know who live independently, I will tell you about my life in particular. 

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Spectrum Local TV News Story – Disability Advocate Draws Attention to Lack of Inclusive Policies

I’m super excited & honored to have been featured in a news story by Spectrum News on disability inclusion in light of recent events with the paralympian who was unable to bring her caregiver, her mother, to Tokyo.

As I always say, Disability Doesn’t Discriminate — anyone can join the club for any reason and creating a globally inclusive environment whether that be in the paralympics, employment world, your community, the government, etc. should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind!

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2021/08/24/disability-advocate-draws-attention-to-lack-of-inclusive-policies

Rebel Love Podcast Now Live

Love, Sex & Orgasms …Yup, I went there live on Rebel Love Podcast!It was a blast speak with Talia on so many subjects and shedding light on disability and sexuality.

Naturally this is a topic near and dear to my heart since my website has a tagline on this very topic!I don’t know if many of you know this, but my entire advocacy mission in life started 6 years ago because of a dating experiment I would write about on my Facebook page.

This is actually how the QUIRKY QUAD Diaries was founded… Simply trying to show women with disabilities that a love life is absolutely possible even in a wheelchair 🙂

Also, to be completely honest it was super fun to write about sex at a time when I was dealing with major life changing surgeries!

EP39: Life As A Quadriplegic After A Shallow Water Diving Accident: Ali’s Story

Be Your Own Advocate & Fight For Your Life

It was such an honor to be a guest on Karen Roy’s Life Possible with a Disability Podcast. Karen Roy is a good friend and fellow Disability Advocate in the community. We talked on a range of subjects from love, life, adversity, and fighting for medically necessary equipment in the health insurance world, and what that entails.

Karen is a rock star in her own right who has been pushing for equal access to exercise equipment for those with disabilities, is Ms. former Wheelchair America, and now works with a large Durable Medical Equipment Company to push the boundaries for patient access in the health insurance world.

We had a great conversation and I do hope many people are able to take a lesson out of what we talked about in the podcast: