Category Archives: Feature stories

Three SCI Videos! Cooking with a Celeb Chef, Rome by Wheelchair, Quadriplegic Beauty Vlogger on The Doctors

We’re constantly adding new content to our site, hoping to inspire and educate the entire community of people affected by spinal cord injury. Now we’re re-introducing our regular blog series highlighting the best of our latest videos. Simply called “New Videos!,” you’ll find videos guaranteed to keep you watching until the very end.

From a quad rugby player cooking with a celebrity chef to a wheelchair beauty vlogger’s interview with The Doctors TV show, sit back and watch – then let us know what you think of our three highlighted videos below!

Video #1: Cooking With Team USA | Chuck Aoki Makes A One-Pot Wonder In The Kitchen

We love a good cooking video here at SPINALpedia, but finding one featuring a wheelchair-user can be difficult; especially one that’s also TV-quality AND features a famous chef (although we once saw a paraplegic on Guy’s Grocery Games). That’s why this video from last fall – “Cooking with Team USA’s Chuck Aoki – Chuck Makes A One-Pot Wonder In The Kitchen” – is so great.

Chuck is one of the leading scorers on Team USA’s Quad Rugby team. While he is not a quad (some of his fingers are amputated), he is a lifelong wheelchair-user. Watch him team-up with renowned chef Richard Blais (winner of Top Chef, host of Hunger Games on the Food Network). Together they make a mouth-watering pork chop over sauteed greens with cannelloni beans, and what’s amazing is that his so-called inabilities aren’t referenced once. Richard Blais – you are one classy guy. Watch here

Video #2: Rome Wheelchair Travel VLOG

Traveling to Rome in a wheelchair is nothing new, but it’s never been done quite as snarky as the way Vince Preap has covered it. He is a paraplegic from Canada who recently traveled solo to Rome, documenting the sights along the way. An expert at taking the “rolling selfie,” Vince has a panache for showing up late to all of the cool tourist attractions (don’t worry; he ends up seeing everything he wants once he figures out how to plan his days better).

In his vlog, he gives a tour of the Leonardo train, the Vatican museums (including how to deal with the crazy crowds and the accessible chair that gets you into the Sistine chapel), eating gelato and pasta, and the ultimate sight on his Rome Bucket List – the Coliseum. He shares how this famous arena is free for wheelchair-users and shows off some surprising accessible features. Watch here

Video #3: Beauty Vlogger Tragedy – The Doctors

Paralyzed seven years ago in a car accident, Steph Aiello is a rising star on Instagram known for her incredible makeup vlogs (she has more than 97k followers!). Steph was recently featured on the CBS TV show The Doctors to talk about her injury and how her recovery was boosted by her love of makeup (practicing with the tools enabled her to become more of a C7 quad dexterity-wise vs. a C6-5 quad.) And she dubs herself @uwalk_iglide, a perfect analogy for how she’s transitioned into life as a wheelchair-user.

But it hasn’t been easy, as she shares in this emotional video. After sharing her story and demonstrating on-camera how she applies makeup, Steph makes an appearance on the show and becomes emotional after watching herself in the video. It’s powerful and boy are we happy the entire country has the opportunity to hear her story. Watch here

Remember – we’re always searching for videos that are captivating to those with SCI! We hope the above three delivered. If you have a video you’d like to recommend for our next “New SCI Videos!” blog, please send the link to

Quick Links to the Videos

Cooking With Team USA | Chuck Aoki Makes A One-Pot Wonder In The Kitchen
Rome Wheelchair Travel VLOG
Beauty Vlogger Tragedy

SCI Spotlight: Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith was a 17-year-old natural athlete obsessed with sports when he broke his C5-6 vertebrae in a diving accident in 2000.

And while some transition into life after a spinal cord injury with moderate ease, Wayne did not. “Realizing this part of my life was gone was very rough, and it still leaves a bit of a hole.” The beginning of his new life with a spinal cord injury was not ideal. Having to move back into his mom and step dad’s house, which was not fully accessible, made the transition even more difficult.

“Since my accident happened when I was 17, all of my friends were finishing high school and going off to college or who knows what else, and I ended up alone. So for over ten years I was basically alone except for my family, and that was my biggest fear, being alone forever.” In addition, Wayne suffered a series of health setbacks over the years, involving surgeries and leg amputations

But what Wayne has not lost is his upbeat attitude. Even though he misses sports, “I’m a pretty positive person regardless of the situation. It takes a lot to get me down,” he says. And this has made him determined to never give up.

A resident of Chester, a small town in Virginia, Wayne has taken up new hobbies and keeps himself very busy.With baseball (the sport he had once anticipated playing in college), volleyball, tennis and basketball out of the question, he has taken up shopping, watching sports, seeing movies, going to museums and concerts, playing sports video games, and, of course, everyone’s favorite – going online. And it was his online pursuits that brought him his greatest happiness in life – meeting his fiancee, Paulina.

Wayne met Paulina on social media three years ago. A native of Mexico, Paulina completely changed his world. The way he thought about the possibilities of life even shifted. “I thought I would be alone the rest of my life because why would someone want to be with someone with all my issues, when they can be with someone ‘normal?’” The two started talking on instant messenger, then moved to the phone. Next was video chat and after a year of talking, they met in person.

Now Wayne can add traveling to his list of hobbies. Since meeting Paulina, he has traveled a lot. “I travel often to visit my fiancee. We tried getting her a Visa for the US, but it was denied. So I fly there every couple of months and stay there for a month and come back, rinse and repeat. She has traveled and worked all around the world so that has kind of rubbed off on me making me want to travel as well. We went on a trip to Canada together, checking out Toronto, Montreal and Niagara Falls. It was amazing.”

Three years later, the lovebirds are engaged. “I feel very lucky even after the accident. First, I survived. And my mom has always been here. She’s been one of the biggest reasons I’ve gotten through my injury with happiness and a sense of humor. And I met my soulmate. That has been the best thing that’s happened to me – before or after. I probably wouldn’t have met her if I hadn’t gotten injured and honestly, I would not trade her to be able to have all the other stuff back.”

Now that is true love. The SPINALpedia team wishes Wayne & Paulina all the best!

Have you met your significant other online? What was it like?