“When I was little I went to a kids MDA camp. There were two people there, Donna and Becky. They were both older than me and when I was a little kiddo, you know, you just want to be with the cool kids. They were always so nice to me and let me hang out with them. I found out later that they realized cute little kids brought boys around, so that’s why they let me hang out with them. But I always thought they were so cool…they lived on their own and went to college and they did everything on their own and I was like “okay, I’m doing this!”
My parents were never like “Oh, you’re in a wheelchair, it’s okay, you don’t have to do this.” It was more like “So what? Do it. You’re going to go to school just like everyone else.” It was never even a question that I was going away to college.
I went to Whitewater. When you go to Whitewater you get the whole experience. It’s like summer camp all year round because they have all the disabled student services. I did a lot of crazy random stuff while there, like flying in Army Biplanes.”
“I’m the kind of person that if I want to do something I will just do it. I don’t have a bucket list. A lot of it was traveling, but I’ve done a lot of that. We’ve been to Punta Cana, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Jamaica. I’ve never been that girl who has been like “I wish I could do that.” I’m just like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Just because I’m in a wheelchair and my legs don’t work, doesn’t mean that I can’t do the same thing as every one else. In fact, I probably do more than your average person without a disability. We go places, travel, have fun.”
“If you met my mother you would totally understand my personality. We are both very similar in that we can talk to anyone and make friends with anyone. My mom met her best friend in her hometown drugstore while she was waiting for a prescription. That’s usually my goal, to try to be your best friend instantly. You should just give in, it’s going to work out, so you might as well.”
“People talk louder to me a lot. They scream at me. I’m like, “My ears work just fine! Why are you yelling at me?!” Older people do it a lot, but I excuse it; in their day I was probably locked up somewhere, so they just don’t know any different.
They’ll often say funny things like “Oh, it’s so great to see you out!” It would be funnier to see me in, actually.
We usually have somewhere to go because I don’t like to stay home—ever. So we’ll go out to dinner with friends, or we’ll go to a movie, or we’ll go shopping, or anything at all.”
“Before my current job, I ran a company. I managed 75 employees. I got to a place that I really hated it. Every morning I would be so crabby that I had to go to work, then at the end of the work day I would be in a better mood because I knew it was the end, but then at 8 pm I’d be upset because I knew I’d have to go back the next day. I left and I didn’t work for two years.
Now, I have a job that I love. Every morning, my alarm goes off and I’m like “oh it’s time to get up! I get to see some of my favorite people today.”
They call us partners. I have the added bonus of using the program [IRIS – Include, Respect, I Self-Direct], and having been through it, I can help them access the things they need to make their lives a little easier.
I treat each one of my clients as a friend that I get to go visit not as a client.
I’m very comfortable in my job. I’ve been approached about being promoted, but I’m good right here, in my own little world, where I get to see 50 people who I adore. I’m of the mindset “if it isn’t broke, why fix it?” Why move into something else if I’m happy and I live comfortably. I lead a very amazing life.”
“Obviously every day is not roses, we’ve had our share of rough times. Not everything is happy and wonderful, but if you get dragged down in that part you’ll never make it. You just have to remember the positive things or you’ll really get bogged down in the shit of life.
Just love life, and love living it. You don’t know what’s going to happen or what tomorrow is going to bring. You could just not wake up. So why not love today, and live for today, and have as much fun as you can.”