My mother who passed away 5 years ago from invasive lobular breast cancer had always taught me that “Adversity Builds Character”. By instilling these wise words into my spirit she unknowingly prepared me for challenges in life.
On my way to work on Oct. 4th, 2000, my small car was rear ended by a truck that was hauling cement. I became mobility impaired due to a diffuse axonal injury and a spinal cord contusion initially causing partial paralysis and severe muscle weakness.
When I used a wheelchair, I developed an inner beauty that shined outwardly. God gave me an inner peace that I wanted to share with others. I formed an inspirational group called Paradigm Organization. The mission was to inspire, educate and encourage “Disabled individuals to become positive leaders. I recently completed my B.A. Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and I serve on the advisory board for the Mobility Center at Cal State Los Angeles. I plan to use my degree to persuade advertisers to feature more disabled individuals in media who use assistive devices such as wheelchairs, leg braces, forearm crutches and canes.
Since I was the sole support of my then 12-year-old daughter, in order to empower her, I learned to be strong through adversity as my mom taught me through perseverance, prayer and a supportive family. I still exercise to maintain muscle strength to walk with the aid of leg orthoses.
I am a Disability Advocate, Inspirational Speaker, Advisory Board Member, Aspiring Author and I am passionate about helping differently-abled individuals understand how beautiful they are!
Photographed by Paul Dimalanta