SCI Superstar: Rachelle Friedman Chapman


Chances are you’ve seen the “paralyzed bride” headline since her injury 3 years ago, but Rachelle Friedman Chapman is much more than just a paralyzed bride. Now happily married, Rachelle has forged a new life for herself since her accident at her bachelorette party.

A speaker, author, motivator and a leader, read on to see how this media darling has persevered, showing the world that wallowing in self-pity after a spinal cord injury isn’t a requirement.

Why she’s fearless

Growing up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Rachelle Friedman Chapman grew up loving athletics, and that’s what bonded her and her now husband, Chris.  The two met while attending East Carolina University. They were friends first, and then fell in love; a perfect college romance.

But her whole life changed when on May 28th, 2010 at her bachelorette party, Rachelle was playfully pushed into the pool, landing wrong and breaking the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in her neck. She was paralyzed instantly, but she was not instantly depressed, like so many of us can become.

After her injury, Rachelle’s story was all over the national news. Everyone wanted to see her get married despite her new medical costs and the possibility of her insurance denying her if she got married. So 1-800 Registry, being the awesome wedding site they are, helped pay for their wedding.

They went all out, helping pay for all the details, with the couple finally marrying a little over a year after her accident on July 22nd, 2011.  Check out their wedding site on 1800 registry, and here is a video of their wedding day (love the sunflowers she used her hair). And for a final awesome note, they sent them on a honeymoon to Fiji. Watch them on The Today Show (who followed them extensively too) talk about their am-aazing honeymoon

What I love about Rachelle and Chris’ story is that while they didn’t get married when they initially wanted to, and under different circumstances, they still made it happen. Even if they hadn’t received the help, Rachelle was determined to marry her fiancé no matter what. Watch Rachelle talk about her love for Chris

What’s next?

Now an experienced husband and wife, Rachelle and Chris are living life as a married couple, and Rachelle is sticking to what she loves – fitness, and getting as much movement back as possible. Thanks to the non-profit Walking with Anthony, Rachelle has been able to go to Project Walk in California a couple times, which helped her gain noticeable strength with every visit.  Watch her talk about her experience at Project Walk while on the red carpet while at a charity event for Walking with Anthony.

She’s also become a spokesperson for WheelStrong, a wheelchair fitness website, as well as a motivational speaker and writer, writing articles on her life as a wheelchair-user for The Huffington Post. Check out a recent piece she’s done: How to Keep Love in a Relationship

Who knows what’s next for Rachelle’s story. A baby? A new home? Or maybe she’ll just lay low. Whenever she decides to do, she and Chris continue to show the world how a real relationship works, how one can truly survive, in a beautiful way.

What lengths would you go to get married?

– Check out her site: Rachelle Friedman Chapman

Watch the videos!

Rachelle and Chris’ wedding video

Rachelle Friedman Chapman and husband the Today Show talk about honeymoon

Rachelle talking about staying safe at the bar as a wheelchair-user The Ability 411

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