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Photographer: Jonathan Russell

I was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the age of seven, on a beach trip with my grandparents, we encountered some rocks on the road and a truck hit us head on. I lost consciousness and woke up at the hospital many hours later.

Everything went too fast and quiet. It was like watching a silent film without a chronological order. My grandfather, who was driving, had passed away. I had a spinal cord injury (SCI) that left me quadriplegic.

I immigrated to Chicago three years after my injury because I was not receiving any help from the government or service organizations in Mexico. Continuing school in inaccessible school buildings was the first physical struggle. In Chicago, I finished school and completed a BA in Political Science.

For the past five years, I have worked at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital for a program that encourages people with newly acquired injuries to become as independent as possible. I recently started working on the Domestic Violence program for people with disabilities as well.

I have many hobbies, love traveling, and like strangers, especially the homeless. I have learned to appreciate their help when I am out on the street and they offer to open a door for me. Unconditional love is what I have discovered with the people that surround me. I have learned to value smaller things that make a big impact on people’s lives. I would love to someday soon return some of the help I have received.