Drinking and driving is a common cause of spinal cord injuries, and this is what happened to Jen Addis, 40, who was paralyzed when her boyfriend/”designated driver” rolled the car they were in when he was two times over the legal blood-alchohol limit.
At 24, Addis, now a C5-6 quadriplegic, started her life over. “I lost the career I had as a teller supervisor/officer at a bank, which I loved and was highly successful at since my first day on the job. This was devastating for me as a young, independent woman,” she says, “to lose my livelihood and means of taking care of myself.”
Addis found her new purpose in 2001 when she became Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. “I had a voice again, a purpose and a newfound confidence.” After becoming Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, she began a speaking career, traveling to schools and conferences, speaking on an issue very dear to her heart — the consequences of drinking and driving.
And then came her latest project, “This Is How We Roll,” an all-inclusive fashion show she began last October. The show had 35 models and raised over $13,000 for the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation.
Addis has also brought outdoors accessibility awareness to Discover Wisconsin, a TV program shot near her home in Hancock. She produced and starred in “Something for Everyone — Accessible Wisconsin,” showcasing some of the most accessible destinations in the state.
As for her obvious people skills, she’s grateful for them. “God blessed me with this amazing ability to connect well with everyone. In turn, it has really helped me to allow others to feel comfortable with not only me, but my injury, the wheelchair and all the awkwardness that goes along with the unknown in situations like this.”
Visit her site: inspirationspeaks.me
50 Marathons In 52 Weeks
You have runners who run in marathons in every state, so why shouldn’t wheelchair users do the same thing? That is exactly what Grant Berthiaume and Paul Erway, both paras in their mid 40s, dreamed up when they first met at a wheelchair race in Oita, Japan. “What is next … what will be our next goal?” they questioned themselves after completing one of the hardest races in the world.
And the answer they came up with was run 50 marathons in 52 weeks across the United States — a marathon a week for an entire year, and that’s precisely what they did the entirety of 2013. Joined by another paralyzed racer, Aaron Roux, the trio raced their first — the Mississippi Blues Marathon on January 5th, 2013, in Jackson. They raced their last marathon in December — the Honolulu Marathon — in beautiful Hawaii.
Get a recap: 50abilitymarathons.com
Tablet Eye Tracking
For people with high-level spinal cord injuries, get ready for one of the coolest technological advancements in recent years — the Tobii EyeMobile — a device that lets you use a tablet with Windows 8 by using only your eyes. E-books, social media and games will never be the same.
See it at tobiiati-webshop.com