Category Archives: SCI Superstars

SCI Superstar: Heidi Herkes

Helping women feel beautiful has been Heidi Herkes’ world since beginning her career in the beauty industry over 15 years ago. A former high-end bridal beauty business owner from the UK who traveled worldwide for her job, she’s been working hard to forge a new career for herself since her injury, and she’s successfully done it.

Heidi has refused to allow her injury to stop her from following her passion in the beauty industry. She can’t use her hands the way she used to as a C6 quad, which has forced her to think of new ways to share her talents. She’s transitioned from a wedding beauty consultant to a personal stylist and we can’t wait to see where her new career direction takes her.

Determined, beautiful and stronger than she’s ever been before in her life, read on to see how Heidi has proven no match for a spinal cord injury.

Why She’s Fearless?

A Londoner and a graduate of King’s College, Heidi worked over 15 years in the beauty industry before her entire world was changed. Doing beauty consults for brides in cities like Sydney, Dubai, Auckland Berlin and throughout the United States was a great gig. But then in 2014, a freak accident occurred. Heidi became paralyzed after falling down a flight of stairs while overseas.

I had to rethink my approach to life and work completely,” she says. “Not only did it have a resonating effect on my life at the time, it also showed me first-hand how enormous an impact it had on the way I looked and felt. My confidence and self-esteem were at ground zero. I was faced daily with the difficulty of not being able to express myself as the woman I once was.”

After taking over a year to recover, she began to think about returning to the industry. Heidi thought about how she could utilize her skills in their best way, and she brilliantly thought of becoming a personal fashion consultant for women of all sizes, shapes and backgrounds. “I soon realized that despite the accident, this was something that resonated deeply with me and was something I wanted to pursue.”

As a result, Heidi launched her new business, Heidi Herkes Personal Style Consultancy, in October 2016 and she is one of the few, if not the only, personal style consultant with a SCI in the world.

What’s Next?

Heidi offers her services to all, AB and disabled, and she styles a wide variety of sizes. Her style consultancy involves a fun three step process: #1. Personal style session. #2. Wardrobe styling session, and #3. Personal shopping and styling session. For anyone who could really use fashion advice from experts, you can’t get better than this. She’ll even give you a color analysis.

Since launching her business, Heidi has helped dozens of women feel more beautiful, including Jemima Green, a newly injured woman and horse lover who partook in a glamorous photoshoot with the help of Heidi as her stylist consultant. See the photos and read how Heidi impacted Jemima’s life here: The Beauty of Wings

Heidi has stayed true to herself in spite of her SCI. Whether she’s traveling the world when she’s not working with the love of her life or simply dreaming up her next big career move, we love her for her ferocious tenacity and wish her all the best.

Learn more: Heidi Herkes

– Like Heidi Herkes Personal Style Consultancy on Facebook

SCI Superstar: Jessika Kattah De la Torre

Jessika Kattah De la Torre is one woman on wheels you’ll never forget, but it’s not because she uses a wheelchair. With a personality so big it eclipses a room, this Floridanative loves life and is passionate about everything she does. Health issues however have followed this fierce woman since she was a teenager. A spinal cord injury is just one of the health issues she’s had to fight through.

What we love about Jessika is that she hasn’t let these issues stop her from having the passion for life she’s always had. Always a huge fitness fanatic, she’s still one till this day. She’s also found new passions since her injury, from the fun – indoor skydiving – to the serious – spinal cord injury research advocacy. Read more about Jessika’s ongoing journey below.

Why She’s Fearless

At the age of 14, doctors found a benign lipoma tumor on her spine. Fortunately, they were able to remove it and she was tumorfree, without paralysis, for 12 years. At the age of 26 however, the tumor returned returned, and this time she became paralyzed after she underwent another surgery to remove it. Although after a few months in rehab she was able to walk out of the hospital using a walker, the tumor returned again. She is currently a full-time wheelchair user with a T2 incomplete injury.

As one can imagine, the ups and downs of having a tumor can be taxing, but this former “gym rat” is tough. She now has two passions – raising awareness for spinal cord injury research and adaptive sports. It began when Jessika signed up for Red Bull’s first Wings for Life World Run in 2014. She has participated in this awareness event since it’s inception and is one of their official Ambassadors.

She’s also discovered adaptive fitness parks that are around the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-area where she lives. She loves making videos showing how to use these parks from a wheelchair. “I never give up,” she says and you can especially see this in her videos.

Jessica, now 31, has also discovered the freedom of adaptive SCUBA since her injury, as well as adapted surfing and indoor skydiving with iFLY Ft. Lauderdale. She can be credited for helping spread awareness of indoor skydiving for wheelchair-users throughout Florida.

What’s Next

Most recently Jessika decided to switch gears. She met another paraplegic after her injury, Rey, and they fell in love. An adorable love story, Reinaldo and Jessika share their adventures together on her Youtube channel here using the hashtag – #ItsThatWheelKindofLove.

They share everything from how they travel together, like packing two manual wheelchairs in the back seat of a car, to their adventures around Florida, whether they’re surfing, going on a day-trip to Saint Augustine or to a friend’s wedding. They even went to Spain just a few months ago and made several videos on international travel. We can’t wait to see what they record next.

Jessika also speaks about her injury, spreading awareness on the importance spinal cord injury research whenever she can. She is a true soldier in the SCI army and we are grateful for all of the goodness she’s infusing into the community.

How do you find a new passion after a SCI?

Jessika’s official site

Follow Jessika on Instagram

Watch Videos of Jessika

#ItsThatWheelKindOfLove – Episode 5 – Adaptive Surfing

iFly – Fort Lauderdale Indoor Skydiving All Abilities Night

Jessika speaking at the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals

Woman On A Roll To Find Cure For Spinal Cord Injuries – CBSMiami

Adaptive Fitness Trail at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida