Monthly Archives: June 2015

SCI Superstar: Stephany Glassing

stephglassing

Photo credit The Marietta Daily Journal

A former sit-n-ski water skier with several adapted water ski titles under her belt, Stephany Glassing is one of the few licensed female paraplegic pilots in the country. And that’s not all. She’s also a mother, an artist, former Ms. Wheelchair Georgia 2003 and a lover of monkeys. Yes you heard us right – monkeys.

The recipient of a Capuchin monkey (she requested one to help with depression), she’s become a huge disability service monkey advocate since receiving Tracy, speaking on behalf of the organization that gave her her monkey whenever she can.

To learn more about Stephany, an amazing woman and dedicated single mother who refuses to let her chronic pain win, read on.

Why she’s fearless

Raised by a mother who worked at NASA, Stephany dreamed of flying as a little girl. She grew up in Melbourne, Florida near NASA and was a total “Florida girl,” loving the sun and water. But like so many people when they’re a teenager, in 1984 she made a bad decision after drinking – she decided to get into the car of a friend who was drunk.

While a passenger, the car rolled and Stephany was ejected, with the car landing on top of her. She woke up a few days later in the hospital and was told she would never walk again. Stephany was grateful for the second chance at life and moved on strongly.

After her injury, Stephany went on to receive a degree in computer science from a local community college, and then she received an art degree from Arts Institute of Atlanta. She also became pregnant not too long after injury, giving birth to her daughter Briana; a young woman who went on to become Miss Atlanta in 2012 and Miss Cobb County (pictured above with Stephany). Stephany and her daughter were extremely close and remain so till this day.

In the first years after her injury, Stephany actually was not active athletically. It wasn’t until the early nineties when she discovered adapted water skiing. Growing up she loved the water, so this was a natural fit. From 1995 to 2007, Stephany was an active water skier and part of the USA Disabled Water Ski Team. In 1999, she won the title of Disabled Water Ski Champion and the USA National Ladies Sit Ski jump Champion.

Stephany eventually had to retire permanently from the water skiing in 2007 when she began experiencing chronic pain from sitting in her wheelchair for over 30 years.  And when she had a strange reaction to taking antibiotics in 2010, having a condition called Osteomyletis, which was a mass that literally melted her L4 vertebrae. Stephany had to get a rod and plate put in to help with the damage, which only increased her chronic pain.

Missing the water, Stephany is now an adapted rower, a new sport she’s fallen in love with, and she says it helps with her chronic pain immensely.

What’s next?

While doing peer support at the Shepherd Center near her home town of Marietta, Georgia, Stephany discovered Able Flight, an adapted flight nonprofit in North Carolina, that helps people with disabilities get their pilot’s license. An adrenaline junkie, Stephany knew this was for her. It took for several years because of health setbacks, but she eventually got her pilot’s license in 2012, flying a specially modified Sky Arrow S-LSA.

For Stephany, flying has been a beautiful tonic to her soul. “I love the sense of freedom flying gives me. It really gets me get out of my chair,” she likes to say. But 24 years later after her injury when her daughter moved out for college, even her love of flying couldn’t keep her spirits up.

For the first time since her injury, she became depressed. A longtime artist, Stephany thought outside-the-box to help herself, and applied for a Capuchin monkey from Helping Hands. She received Tracy, her monkey, just a few years ago, and her life had been transformed. Having Tracy has helped her in so many ways – a companion, someone to care for and of course someone who can help her too.

While Stephany’s athletic achievements have been impressive since her injury, what we’re really impressed by is her ability to thrive in the face of chronic pain, and fight depression and win in her later days. She proves we all have that fighting spirit within us, if we just know where to look for it.

Have you considered getting a Capuchin monkey?

– Learn more: Able Flight and Helping Hands

Watch the videos!

Woman with Disability Learns to Fly

Imagine a Monkey – Stephany shares how Tracy the monkey helps her

Adaptive rowing for pain management

SCI Superstar: Charles Krauthammer

CharlesKrauthammer

A conservative political analyst for the Washington Post and Fox News, Charles Krauthammer is a quadriplegic you’ll never forget. The thing about Charles however is that he doesn’t want you to focus on his quadriplegia, and he’s been amazingly successful in this goal.

Out of the thousands of Charles’ dedicated fans, most don’t even know he uses a wheelchair. It’s not that it’s a secret, it’s just that his opinions and views on American politics are so engaging that they make you forget his disability.

From working as a Harvard-trained psychiatrist to becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist all post-injury, read on for the fascinating story of Charles Krauthammer.

Why he’s fearless

Born in New York City and raised in Canada, Charles was raised by parents who escaped Europe during WWII.  Raised an Orthodox Jew, Charles loved everything about the beach and sports as a child, hanging out with his older brother who taught him everything he knows about sports.  He also loved to sail, which became one of his first jobs at age 16.

And after high school he moved on to college. He was accepted to both Oxford and Harvard University. Conflicted about where and what to study – medicine at Harvard or politics at Oxford – he chose of Oxford. While going to Oxford was great because he met his future wife Robyn here, a student from Australia, he ended up changing his mind and transferred to Harvard to study medicine.

During his first year of school, while skipping class to play tennis and taking a dive in a pool afterwards cool off, he broke his neck, and he became a C5-6 quadriplegic.  Charles however was determined to not let his injury alter the course of his life, and he went back to medical school as soon as he could, graduating with the class of 1975.

He practiced psychiatry, a field he says worked quite well for his injury, and worked at U Mass General for a couple years, but he eventually changed his mind, and decided to become a political writer. In the beginning of his political career, he was a democrat and worked as a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale. Things changed however for him in the ’80s.

In 1988, after being offered a regular column for the Washington Post, writing his now beloved political commentary, he won a Pulitzer Prize, and this is what skyrocketed his career.

After winning, he joined the weekly political TV show, Inside Washington for PBS, which ran for 20 years. He also became a contributing editor for The Standard when he first started out. Charles soon moved to writing books, and has seven books to his credit. All are on his political leanings, and his most recent book “Things That Matter,” is part autobiography and part collection of political essays written by him over his 30+ year career. It was the number one in the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks.

What’s next?

Charles however is best known for his political commentary on TV. He is a nightly panelist on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, and can be frequently seen on the channel sharing his opinions on the latest politics of the day. And very rarely will you see his wheelchair, as it is always out of the shot.

It his personal time, Charles, now 65 and a longtime resident of Washington DC, loves baseball and chess. He had to quit the former though, as he was becoming too addicted.  He and his wife of over 40 years also have a son Daniel, who is a writer and lives in Los Angeles.

It’s not very often you run across such a well respected voice from a person from a spinal cord injury, a voice that’s on national television and has won prestigious awards like Charles Krauthammer. He is truly inspirational and proves you can make your way in this world, disability be damned.

Are you a fan of Charles’ work? What you think of his political opinions?

Follow his latest work in The Washington Post

Watch the videos!

The Freak Accident That Changed Charles Krauthammer’s Life

Charles Krauthammer Determined To Lead A Life That Matters

Charles Krauthammer talks about being in a wheelchair