Category Archives: SCI Superstars

SCI Superstar: Kristin Beale

Not everyone with a SCI is as determined as Kristin Beale was after her injury, but that is what makes Kristin so amazing. When she became paralyzed, she refused to accept the limitations doctors predicted she would face as a result of her “complete” injury, and she was intent on proving them wrong.

These days, you can just call her the Queen of Activity-Based Rehab, because that is what she utilized to gain more function than any medical doctor would have expected. And her accomplishments are impressive, from becoming a prolific hand cyclist to publishing a book.

Why She Shines

Growing up, sports were a huge part of Kristin’s life, with cheerleading and lacrosse as her favorites. But at 14 her life changed when she was involved in an accident on a lake in North Carolina. “I was involved in a jet ski accident in 2005 that resulted from driver inattention and a collision of two jet skis. I now have a T8 spinal cord injury,” she says. Beale also suffered a brain injury leaving her with short-term memory loss.

Following the accident, Kristin was rushed through the mainstream hospital and rehab process, but she was not happy with the traditional rehab experience and wanted something more. “Two weeks out of the hospital,” she recalls, “I flew to California for an intensive rehabilitation gym (four hours daily, five days per week) and came home with the ability to wiggle my toes.”

The gym, Project Walk, is a big proponent of activity-based rehab. But Kristin ended up switching rehab facilities after discovering Awakenings, another California rehab facility, where she learned how to crawl on her first visit. So impressed with the trainers there, Kristin returned to Awakenings seven more times.

She also discovered something else in rehab – adaptive sports. She tried adapted tennis, surfing, lacrosse, and a few others, but she was quickly drawn to hand cycling. She loves how the sport takes the pity out of the equation, instead leaving people impressed by her abilities. She has participated in seven marathons to date. Her first, the New York Marathon, was in 2011; her favorite is the Marine Corps Marathon.

To help pay for her to participate in hand-cycling events, Achilles International, a nonprofit for SCI athletes, has sponsored six of her hand-cycling experiences. Achilles International is an offshoot of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and does great things in the SCI/sports community.

What’s Next

It hasn’t been just gyms and marathoning in Kristin’s life. She fell in love with writing in high school, put it on hold after her injury, but has since picked it up again. She’s been a feature writer for Action Magazine, several newsletters and online blogs, and has also written a book. “My writing allows me to be more candid and honest that I’m ever able to in real life,” she says. “Partly because I’m a well-mannered girl and partly because the opportunity to express myself isn’t constant, a lot of perspective is lost.”

With my writing, I have a chance to express myself and record those perspectives,” she continues. “That’s a big reason why publishing a book is scary: people have privilege to however much of yourself you’re willing to expose which, in the case of my book, was everything.”

At the age of 26 last year, Greater Things was published. It chronicles Kristin’s life since her injury, specifically how sports have changed her life. It also gives a glimpse into her everyday life in hopes of giving the reader a deeper perspective about life with a spinal cord injury.

“I didn’t have the idea to make my writing into a book until recent years,” she says. “Since high school I was writing stories, editing them, and storing them in a folder on my computer for no one’s benefit. A Christmas gift to my family in 2014 was a self-published book of all those stories – organized into chapters and only intended to be a great Christmas gift. After I gave them the books, I had the small idea to make something more succinct. I wrote eight to 10 more stories, worked with a local editor, and developed the dream of a published book.”

After a year of pitching her manuscript, it was picked up by Morgan James Publishing. “My dreams came true in my writing becoming a book and in finding the perfect publisher,” Kristin says. Her book is now available at bookstores nationwide (link below).

Currently living in her first home in Richmond, Virginia, with her trusty dog Achilles by her side, Kristin is proud of how far she has come – and she has big writing dreams. “I would love to never go back to an office job, continue to publish books, and be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show,” she says. “Also, I would love to become a best-selling author and have someone make a movie of my story. Pretty typical dreams of an author.”

Have you written your life story What writing tips do you have for others with SCI who want to tell their life stories?

– Visit her official site: KristinBeale.com

– Buy her book on Amazon: Greater Things

Watch Videos of Kristin

Jet Ski Accident Victim Learns to Walk Again – Kristin Beale

Interview with Kristin Beale on “Overcoming Obstacles”

Motivational speech by Kristin

SCI Superstar: Brian Peachey

Up until a year ago, Brian Peachey, a 40 something T10 paraplegic, was living his life along with his wife and their three kids quietly in Southwestern PA. Paralyzed for a couple of decades, he and his wife met after his injury.

But last year, Peachey and his family decided to start sharing their life adventures on their new Youtube channel – Able Family Life. “Our goal is to promote positive examples on the importance of family fun and focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t,” says Peachey.

With two young teenagers and a 6-year-old daughter, Peachey also works FT as a project manager for a medical device company, he travels often in his family’s new homemade accessible RV, all the while making around one new video a week. Read on to learn more about Brian and his family below!!

Why He’s Fearless

While studying civil engineering at Penn State University, Peachey took on a construction job to make some money. A few weeks into the job, however, he slipped and fell. “I was assigned to a roofing job on a warehouse,” he recalls, “and while I was carrying a sheet of aluminum roofing, I lost my footing and fell about 25 feet and landed on the concrete floor.”

Waking up in the hospital and realizing he was paralyzed, Peachey had no idea what his life would be like. “I was pretty accepting of what happened,” he says, “but had no idea of what my life would be like. I envisioned that I would never be able to drive again, and would have to be confined to staying indoors and not be able to do much of anything on my own again.”

He could not have been further from the truth. Peachey missed just one semester of classes while he was in rehab, and he earned his degree two years later. He credits the rehab facility with stressing the importance of exercise and an active lifestyle.

“There’s a whole world of mobility aids, adaptive equipment and organizations created to help people with disabilities that you just don’t know about until you’re living in that world,” he says.“It was both a challenge, both physically and emotionally, but I had a great group of roommates that always supported me if I needed it.”

What’s Next?

After graduating college and working at his first engineering job for the Department of Transportation, he met his future wife. “She’s never treated me any different because of my disability,” he says, “and when there are things I can’t do, we either find another way to do them, or we just do something else.”

Having children was definitely something they wanted to do as a couple. They have three kids; a pre-teen son, a teenage daughter and a younger daughter who’s six years old. Parenting from a wheelchair poses it’s certain challenges, but Peachey hasn’t been phased.

“As with everything, there are negatives that are out of your control, and there are other things you can do to make up for the negatives,” he says. “On the humorous side, there was absolutely no way around the kids running up steps to get away from me when I caught them doing something wrong.”

Their successful family life is part of the reason they decided to share their lives online. Able Family Life has more than 190 videos, highlighting all aspects of life when a family member has a disability.

The online episodes of the Peachey family include everything from family fun days with mini-golf, adventures in their RV, the kids trying out dad’s wheelchair in multiple ways ans even tips for homeschooling kids. Tune in and we think you’ll agree that Brian deserves an award for one of the best dads on wheels around.

What video from Able Family Life is your fav?

– Follow Brian’s family online: Able Family Life

Brian’s member page on SPINALpedia

Our Favorite Videos from Brian and his Family

2017 Wheelchair Family RV Tour with Kids

My Disability Story by Lego People | Living in a Wheelchair

WHEELCHAIR FOR A DAY CHALLENGE