My daughter and I live by a motto and hopefully, after reading this, you will adopt our motto too: If you look good, you feel good, you do good! This saying has enabled us to overcome many of the situations in our lives which we have had to deal with. Little did I know that the “pick me up” we had created would be an accurate depiction of how this past year has turned out.
For the look good aspect of the motto, I was chosen to be an Inclusion Model for PhotoAbility.net, an organization that stocks images of people with disabilities that can be used by registered national and international businesses in all aspects of their advertising. Models, including myself, celebrate the daily lives of people with disabilities and spread awareness of the necessity for easily affordable travel arrangements and accommodation. It is important to make our presence felt by the general public. Our everyday inclusion will bring about the motivation needed to make the world more accessible for all—and we might as well look good while we are doing it!
In feeling good, I founded Project Hope Rolls. This foundation is dedicated to providing basic daily essentials in the form of care packages for physically challenged adults in the community. These gifts validate their recipients by in celebrating the value of their personal identities with dignity and respect. I have always taken pride in taking care of myself and I realized the difficulty that others may have in doing so. The whole reason for Project Hope Rolls is to make people feel good and show them that they are valued members of society. When you feel good, self-acceptance is inevitable.
Since connecting with the AMC (arthrogryposis) family, I have worked really hard at being a resource for new parents whose children have my disability. In my eyes, giving back to others is doing good. When I was a little girl in the 70’s, my parents had no references of how a child with disabilities might thrive in the home, the classroom, and the doctor’s office. While answering these questions and lending an ear to their worries and concerns, I have served as an example of the what is possible for their child in terms of an adult with a family, career, and goals for their future.
All my life, I have worked hard to show others that a disability does not have to hinder your life. We are making waves of progress within our chairs. We can raise children, have careers, and we can drive. I became a speaker after realizing the importance of sharing my story. I have found that just by looking at me, people start to wonder and perhaps take a second look at their own lives. So I have made it my goal to bring hope and encouragement to others simply through their getting to know me and appreciating my own life’s joys, struggles and loves.
It’s so important to find your own source of empowerment in life. At a regional conference, I met a little girl with a fabulous fur vest and a giant red bow in her hair. I had just come off stage after giving my keynote speech and, at just 3 years old, she had the confidence and poise to come up and introduce herself. I was amazed at how this tiny thing could present herself in a way that every adult should, disabled or not.
On Valentine’s Day, 2015 I was chosen as First Runner-Up in the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Gala. This organization runs annual competitions designed to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswomen for millions of disabled Americans. With this title, I can continue to help others with disabilities and show how much we can contribute to society because, even with different abilities, we can all reach the same goals. I believe that everyone should appreciate what has been given to them and see their challenges as blessings. Currently, I am part of the Advocacy Corps Group for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, out of Austin. Their mission is to train the next generation of disability advocates who can educate decision-makers, break down stereotypes and barriers, and promote independence for all Texans with Disabilities. By educating the able bodied community about the achievements of millions of disabled people, our nation will continue to improve. We can flourish in our independence and our freedom will be in the form of unlimited opportunities for everyone. So if you ever experience a troubling time, remember that there is a way to get past it, because “If you look good, you feel good, you do good!”
“We are unlimited. We can do anything and everything. Our wheels just get us there faster.”
See Angel’s Project Hope Facebook page
Ms. Wheelchair Texas