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Photographer: Kyle LaMere

At 13 while on a family vacation in Mexico, I fractured my spinal cord in a car accident. I had no guarantee how my body would recover and spent years relearning activities of daily life. I started college unsure if I could physically pursue the career I had always dreamed of. With a few adaptations, I completed a fashion degree, featured collections, and was a finalist in design competitions. I continued studies in Theater Arts and later Nonprofit Management in Arizona and Oregon but was nervous about moving and not having family for personal care. Eventually I learned to live independently, hire caregivers, and manage my own life.

I’ve learned so much from others with SCI and that ignited the formation of BACKBONES to provide peer support for people with spinal cord injury and their families.

I stay active and healthy by following a fitness routine and practicing yoga; without my health I cannot do the things that matter to me. Yoga has changed my life by reducing my pain and allowing me to accept and love my body as a whole living being.

Whether it’s surfing in California, scuba diving in the Bahamas, cleaning beaches in Costa Rica, attending fashion shows in Paris, or coming up with ideas for BACKBONES, I am eager to experience new things, advocate for equality, and encourage others to pursue what they love!