Monthly Archives: July 2014

SCI Superstar: Alexandra Santibanez


They say getting injured at a younger age makes it easier transition-wise, and Alexandra Santibanez certainly proves this is the case. A fashion model hailing from Miami, Florida and a motivational speaker and advocate for disability awareness, her injury at the age of five has barely slowed her down.

But what we especially love about Alexandra is her sense of style. Not only is she a model, but she went on to receive her bachelor’s in a field perfectly suited for the fashion industry, making sure she’s armed and ready for the future.

Brilliantly smart and the most fashionable woman on four wheels in South Florida, this is the outstanding story of Alexandra Santibanez.

Why she’s fearless

For Alexandra, life would have been completely “normal,” at least body-wise, had she not been in a fated car accident at the age of five. A woman in another car ran a red light, and she and her mom were hit. Both Alexandra and her mother had to be airlifted to the hospital after sustaining serious injuries, and when they arrived Alexandra’s spinal cord injury was not detected right away.

It took her mother’s keen sense of “something isn’t quite right with this child” to flip over Alexandra after seeing her pale face, and discovering a huge bump on her back; which ended up being a blood mass over her spinal cord at the T3 level. Alexandra was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, and spent the next half year in the hospital, including her sixth birthday, completing the necessary rehabilitation for her age and level.

After returning home, Alexandra’s love of fashion grew over the years, and it eventually became something she was exceptionally good at. So good, that after graduating from high school, she went on to school to study for a degree in fashion merchandising.

Modeling however wasn’t always something Alexandra had her eyes on. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she was hired as a project manager for Miami’s biggest fashion magazine – Fashion & Entertainment Magazine – where she worked for two years. Afterwards, needing a breather from the tight deadlines and schedule, she decided if it was finally time to develop her career as a model.

What’s she up to now?

Alexandra first ran in a few local beauty pageants; no disabled pageants either. She won Ms. Photogenic and third runner up in the Ms. Cuba/American beauty pageant.  Next, she wanted to break into the disability modeling scene, and she targeted Colours Wheelchairs, a cool company that makes custom wheelchairs to fit the personality of whoever is in it.

After hobnobbing with Colours representatives at the Abilities Expo, she was asked by the VP of Colours a month later to be their new spokesperson, and she was on cloud nine. In addition to representing Colours, she’s also a model for purse-maker Candy Wooley, a designer from Miami, and she does modeling for automotive shows.

Most recently in fact, Alexandra sported her rockin’ pin-up look for the traveling DUB Show over the weekend in Miami, showing the world that even a girl with paralysis can look drop dead gorgeous on the hood of a car.

You go Alexandra. You’re changing the world with every photo you take, and we love you for it.

How has Alexandra inspired you?

Visit Alexandra’s official website

– Like her on Facebook: Alexandra Santibanez

– View more photos: Alexandra1818 on Instagram

Watch her video!

Alexandra Santibanez featured on Univision Primer Impacto

En Garde: The Awesome World of Wheelchair Fencing


Arguably one of the most elegant adapted sports ever created, wheelchair fencing remains untouched in the coolness and disability departments. It’s one of the oldest adapted sports out there, yet it still remains one of the most popular, and it’s hard to argue why.

There are paralleled inexpensive adaptations for this sport; some of the cheapest you’ll find out there among any other adapted sport. All you need is a weapon, protective gear and really good brakes, and you’re set. Read on for three videos showing the best of what wheelchair fencing has to offer.

Video #1: The Sport of Wheelchair Fencing, Explained

Before we go any further, we thought it would be a good idea to share with you a video giving an overview of the sport of wheelchair fencing; all the rules players must abide by, which is always important.

This video is an interview with one of the world’s best wheelchair fencers, Pierre Mainville, who discusses the rules of the sport. From sharing it was invented by Sir Ludwig Wuttman in 1960 to that it made its debut at the Paralympic games in Rome of that year, you learn about many important milestones.

You also get an overview of adaptations he (and others) have made, and an explanation of the three classification levels,

Check it out: Learn the rules and classifications

Video #2: Arizona’s Wheelchair Fencing Club

Arizona surprisingly is home to a burgeoning wheelchair fencing club with hundreds of members. It’s called the Grand Canyon Wheelchair Fencing Foundation and all are fiercely passionate about wheelchair fencing (and a propensity for being a pirate is not required).

The video interviews 5 of its members, with all of them loving the sport for various reasons from getting a great cardio workout to being perceived as totally awesome by peers once said peers their find out. Many members also talk about how the sport is just as fast if not faster, than the able-bodied version of the sport (due to the to player’s close proximity.

Watch: Members of the Grand Canyon Wheelchair Fencing Foundation share their love of yoga

Video #3: Sport A-Z: Wheelchair Fencing

While this video was made for the upcoming London Paralympic games in 2012, this video is still very much a great thing to watch for learning about the wheelchair fencing. It goes over the history, and it delves into the specifics of the sport, such as the three weapons you can use while playing, either the Foil, Epee or Sabre (only men can use a Sabre).

And when you play, there are various targets you must hit, and with the right weapon. Don’t worry – jabs that can actually hurt aren’t allowed. A tap in the correct target is all that’s needed for the player to get a point. A match consists of several 3 minute-long fencing sessions that last until 45 hits by a player is made.

Watch: Paralympic Games share the history of wheelchair fencing

If you have dreams of joining wheelchair fencing club in your area, check out the following link. The site shares the most current information on wheelchair fencing, and fingers-crossed, there is a wheelchair fencing club near you. If not, try to find someone locally with experience in the adapted version of the sport to help you learn.

Have you tried wheelchair fencing? Was it harder or easier than it looked?

Watch the videos!

–  Classification levels and rules of wheelchair fencing explained by top player

Arizona’s own Grand Canyon State Fencing Foundation profiles their newbie players

Paralympic Games overview of the history of wheelchair fencing