Growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, the now self-described “Carrie Bradshaw” of women who use wheelchairs, was just like any other girl – she loved playing with her Barbie dolls and she dreamed of growing up to be a beautiful woman with a doting husband – but she was also a wheelchair-user.
At the age of 3, Danielle’s Spinal Muscular Atrophy progressed to the point where she could no longer walk, and since, she’s been a full-time wheelchair-user. Danielle is without question an expert at living life fabulously sitting down, especially when it comes to dating and sexuality.
A clinical psychologist for people with disabilities on dating and sexuality, Ms. Wheelchair New York 2012 and a model in the upcoming revamped Raw Beauty campaign by The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, read on for the truly awesome story of Dr. Danielle Sheypuk.
Why she’s fearless
As a little girl and a teenager with a disability, Danielle always wished she could’ve been more active – dreaming she could dance on her two feet and cheerlead, but that chance never presented itself. Instead, after high school, Danielle decided to attend Marywood University.
After receiving her bachelor’s, Danielle moved to Manhattan to study her PhD in clinical psychology from The New School for Social Research. Danielle ended up receiving that PhD and went to work as a clinical psychologist for people with disabilities, focusing on dating and sexuality. She first found a job with the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, and now works for the South Beach Psychiatric Center. She also offers Skype therapy via her site.
Danielle’s passion on the dating and sexuality of the disabled without question began in her teen years, when she herself had no role model – a strong woman with a disability – to look up to. Every person with a disability knows the particularly difficult time we have in the romance department. This is why she’s made it her life mission to help people with disabilities in this badly needed area, as well as make it her platform when she was Ms. Wheelchair New York 2012.
As Ms. Wheelchair New York, her platform, which she carried to the national pageant (and got runner up), was that people with disabilities can be sexy, beautiful partners too, and the world needs to begin to see it. Seeing PWD as sexual beings is the last great stereotype Danielle wants to erase, and she believes us being in the media and shown as sexy beings is a great way to make it happen.
Every day in her NYC life, Danielle is also known for her high fashion as she rolls the sidewalks of Manhattan, and for her insane shoe collection. Crazily though, despite her fab looks, career and smarts, she’s still single and looking. This just shows you how hard it can be for us in the dating waters.
Most recently, Danielle skyrocketed to ever greater fame when she became the first model who uses a wheelchair to “walk” a catwalk during New York City’s Fashion Week, which she did this past February. She made news around the world, and she may have started a trend. Danielle was able to snag this amazing opportunity after a chance meeting with fashion designer Carrie Hammer at a gala event.
Carrie wanted to use “role models” instead of the typical tall, gaunt models in her show, and she knew right away that Danielle was a perfect fit. Danielle, along with able-bodied CEOs and other women in the business world, were able to break down some major stereotypes by modeling in Carrie’s show.
Newly chosen as a spokesperson for the stateside branch of Models of Diversity, a UK-based organization dedicated to having more people with disabilities in the fashion world, fashion is slowing becoming her second career.
Danielle’s also a model for Raw Beauty, a photo project by The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which they’re bringing back after an 8 year hiatus. Danielle is unstoppable, and I cannot wait to see these photos. We also may see her in her very own reality show in the near future. Check her site (below) for the latest.
– Her official site: Dr. Danielle Sheypuk
Could you counsel other people with disabilities like Dr. Sheypuk?
Watch the videos!