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Growing up in a wheelchair has been both demanding and rewarding. Like everyone else, my days have their ups and downs – and sometimes I find myself faced with seemingly impossible obstacles. However, with the support of my family and friends, I have always managed to overcome life’s many challenges. From a young age, my parents encouraged me to dream big, teaching me to never “see my wheelchair”. By adopting such a positive mindset, I began to understand that ‘life’ is whatever you want it to be. This simple idea is true for everyone, regardless of whether you use a wheelchair or not.
Finding My Passion
I understood my physical limitations from a very young age. However, this realisation only increased my motivation to lead a life worth living, ensuring that my story was something I could appreciate and look back on with pride. As I got older, I found myself yearning for adventure and travel. Despite my physical limitations, I eventually realised that my wheelchair would have to become my best friend. To this day, my wheelchair is still an essential part of my independence, helping me conquer the world on wheels rather than legs.
With the help of my Quickie wheelchair, I’ve been able to fulfil my travelling dreams, adventuring across the United States. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit several major U.S. cities, with my favorite destination being Chicago. As a wheelchair-friendly city, I was able to fully experience Chicago’s parks, shopping malls, museums, and famous nightlife. Facing my fear of heights and visiting the 1,353 feet high Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) observation deck, was a particularly memorable part of the trip. Thanks to Chicago’s accessible public transport (e.g: the CTA bus network), I was able to explore all over the enormous city, dining at world-renowned restaurants and strolling along the shores of Lake Michigan. In fact, because of my Quickie wheelchair, I think I was able to cover more ground than most people with full mobility.
“What has been the best day of your life?” For me, it’s a complicated question and I’m not sure that I can choose between two particularly memorable days. My high school graduation probably ranks as one of the proudest moments of my entire life. Like every teenager, I was thrilled to finally be graduating. On the day, I received a standing ovation from other graduates, recognising me for being the only person in a wheelchair to start my education in kindergarten and graduate from 12th grade (in my district). At that moment, I realised how much I had already achieved in life and I felt that I had truly earned the respect of my fellow schoolmates.
Unsurprisingly, the first time that I became an aunt also ranks as one of the best days of my life. For the first time, I wanted to become a better person – not just for myself – but for my nieces and nephews too. I want them to see that, no matter life’s challenges, they can still achieve anything they want.
I’d be lying if I said that I never experience physical discomfort. However, the important thing is that I never let my physical disability stop me from enjoying and living life to the fullest. For me, every day is another chance for improvement and I will never stop trying to make today better than yesterday.
About the Author
My name is Sara, I am a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and professional, living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m 35 years old and I was born with a brittle bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, leaving me in a wheelchair for much of my life. However, my condition has never stopped me from living my life to the fullest and embracing my motto: ‘design a life that I love.’