In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the next several months in rehab, gaining sensation in half of her back, but battling major anxiety and depression. A few months later, she found herself in another accident when a drunk driver crashed into the car her family was in, just one block from the hospital. Aiello was also diagnosed with cancer shortly after. And yet, in the face of such adversity, Aiello’s courage and resilience not only helped her beat cancer and become stronger, it also motivated her to pursue her love of makeup.
Jen Goodwin did everything she was supposed to do — she graduated from college, bought her first house and accepted her dream job in Little Rock. Then in 2008 she decided to spend a June day on Lake Hamilton with her neighbor.
The two were boating around the lake, looking at the lights bouncing off the surface when he, standing on the edge of the boat, fell.
His head slammed onto the back of her neck, and she immediately knew that something was off.
When Brett Colonell took up sketching as a hobby years ago, he didn’t know yet how it would one day evolve into an integral part of his life. Even now, as he explores art as a fulltime profession, he still refers to himself as an artist in training, despite the significant audience his art has drawn on social media.
What many of his fans don’t know is that in 1997 Brett sustained a complete C4-C5 spinal fracture after a motocross accident, leaving him a quadriplegic with no movement from the neck down. After his spinal cord injury, he completed his rehabilitation at Craig Hospital.
Brian Keefer has always been an adrenaline junkie.
A 2008 gymnastics accident in which Keefer suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic could have stopped him, but it didn’t.
“Brian’s had some adventures since he’s had his injury,” his father said.
From scuba diving in the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where “sharks swam right into my face,” to ziplining at Roundtop Mountain Resort in Lewisberry, Keefer has had his share.
Tasha Schuh is used to getting embarrassing questions about her sex life.
Schuh, paralyzed from the chest down since she fell through a stage trap door in 1997 during a rehearsal for her high school musical, said she understands why people are curious.
“You know, I live in a very small town,” said Schuh, 36, of Ellsworth, Wis. “People would stop me at the grocery store and were, like, ‘Um, how’s that going to work?’”
Schuh isn’t afraid to overshare when she answers.
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the Kessler Foundation’s 16th annual “Stroll ‘N Roll” and speaks with Rosalie Hannigan, a Kessler spinal cord research participant, about her accident and her journey to recover her mobility.
Every morning, Brian Keefer looks up at the framed words of encouragement covering his bedroom wall, and he smiles.
“Brian, you keep smiling because that’s what makes you so special! … Keep believing that you can fly!” one says.
“You’re my hero and inspiration,” reads another.
Those notes, written by friends and family, are Keefer’s favorite part of the room “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” built for him in 2011.
Rob O’Byrne was left in a wheelchair after he dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool
A Dublin man has described his “nightmare holiday” after he was left paralysed in a freak accident while in Spain with his family.
Rob O’Byrne (29) from Co Dublin was drinking by the pool with his family when he jumped into the shallow end of the pool.
Jay Liesener, Team Surfgimp conquer more than just West Coast waves
With sunburnt cheeks and scabbed-over nose, Jay Liesener’s face tells it all. His recent trip to surf California’s southern coast was a success.
That’s a good sunburn, said Liesener with his head-wide smile as his wife, Melanie, helped him get out of their van.
Liesener is a quadriplegic and adaptive surfer who lives in Milton. When Gazette readers last saw him, it was days after a crowd-funding effort had raised more than $15,000 to send him and his team, Team Surfgimp, on a bucket-list-checking surfing trip to southern California.
You might feel a bit down if you watch the news. Who wouldn’t?
Angry people might be grabbing headlines and making you wonder about the future, but the antidote is all around you.
Talk to some of your neighbors. Chances are, no matter what they look like or where they’re originally from, you’ll find they’re actually pretty decent people — just like you.
The little improvements we all try to make may not register much, but the accumulation of them all eventually does.