Tag Archives: wheelchair fashion

SCI Superstar: Heidi McKenzie

 

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The latest wheelchair fashion designer to throw her hat into the ring, Heidi McKenzie is unlike any other wheelchair designer of there. A paraplegic since her early twenties, Heidi has owned being a woman with a spinal cord injury, competing in Ms. Wheelchair America and now her latest venture – becoming a business woman -since her injury.

But her latest venture, creating customized wheelchair clothing, is what has launched her into fame this past year. From appearing on local media to being profiled on some of the biggest websites online, Heidi’s grand “coming out” last year with her brand (which included a successful Kickstarter campaign) has been phenomenal.

Why she’s fearless

Heidi’s story begins on a foggy curvy road in 2007 when she was 21 years old. Home was far way in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and she was in Ohio, driving on a road she wasn’t familiar with. She hit a big curve and hit a tree, breaking her back at T-4, as well as her arm in several places (which required metal plates to heal).

Heidi spent 3 months in rehab, and was discharged to begin her new life; but she was lost. She had been planning on going to college to study fashion merchandising before her injury, but now that she was a paraplegic, she didn’t think the industry was for her. Would she be accepted? Would she be able to travel around the world as a buyer?

Instead, she went home to work for her father’s concrete company as a bookkeeper, which she did for five years, and it wasn’t until 2012, five years after her injury, when her entire perspective shifted when she ran for Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky. Winning isn’t what changed her, it was going to the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant that did.

At this pageant, Heidi met dozens of other women in wheelchairs she could relate to, and it was here she finally realized she wasn’t alone in her struggles. She heard over and over again from her fellow contestants about their fashion struggles, and that the clothing options out there weren’t as great as they’d like. After coming home from the pageant, she was forever changed.

What’s next?

Heidi may not have won Ms. Wheelchair America that year, but she won in a much bigger way. She was inspired to return to fashion, and the first garment she wanted to tackle – jeans. She named her company Alter Ur Ego, helping people with disabilities show their true selves.

Her jeans have a slight stretch, a high back and come in custom lengths. They’re also available for both men and women. And they have two other ingenious design elements – thigh pockets and a tummy control panel, helping wheelchair-users both look slim and get to things they’re carrying easier. You can see the full breadth of her jean design here

And in August 2015, Heidi had a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for her company, funding her company so they can start taking jean orders by September 25th, 2015. To put your order in, visit the link to her store below.

It’s always a beautiful thing whenever someone with a spinal cord injury returns to doing something they loved before, but with an even more fervent passion now. It gives you hope that what truly does move on and that wounds can heal, which Heidi can certainly attest to.

Will you be pre-ordering a pair of Alter Ur Ego jeans?

– Visit her clothing site: Alter Ur Ego

Watch the videos!

Lexington Fashion Collaborative: Meet Heidi Mekenzie

Heidi McKenzie Preview | Connections | KET

Patient Heidi McKenzie talks about living an active, independent lifestyle as a paraplegic patient

SCI Superstar: Priscilla Hedlin

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After our injuries we’re all worried about different things – going back to school, doing things you love again, providing for your family and for many women with spinal cord injuries – will I be able to have children? The answer is a resounding yes, as the renowned Wheelchair Mommy blogger exemplifies.

Priscilla Hedlin is one of the most well-known bloggers for mothers with spinal cord injuries. Priscilla began sharing her story shortly after it happened by starting a Geocities website. She’s officially been blogging on WP in 2008 and her blog covers every aspect of parenting with a spinal cord injury. The depth of information she covers is some of the best out there.

If you’re newly injured and worried about parenting, you can’t get better than The Wheelchair Mommy. Read her journey, from her injury to how she became a blogger, below.

Why she’s fearless

Freshly out of high school, Priscilla was in a car accident, caused by a drunk passenger grabbign the wheel from the driver, leaving her a L1-2. The year was 1999 and Priscilla had just start college and was living with her best friend.

Luckily, sooner rather than later she realized a full life was still possible. Within two years of her injury, she met her future husband Charlie, and after a year and a half (yes, they went old-school style) they were married. The two were married in December 2002 and have been living in Austin, Texas since. In December 2004, Priscilla had her first baby – a boy. She had another boy in 2008, and then one more boy in 2011.

No longer trying for the elusive girl, Priscilla is busy being an amazing mom to her three sons, all the while sharing her life and tips for other moms with disabilities on her blog. And her blog is massive. With over 1200 posts and counting, she shares all aspects of parenting with a spinal cord injury. She also homeschools her children, proving that women with spinal cord injuries can do this as well.

Whether you’re looking for information on family life, wheelchair life, homeschooling or your basic taking care of the home info (taking care of the home and cooking; that kind of thing) you’ll find a post about it on The Wheelchair Mommy. She also has a great section on her wedding and one of the most thorough FAQs we’ve ever seen, answering popular questions from people who visit her blog.

What’s next?

When she’s not blogging, Priscilla is a public speaker as well as an ambassador for Backbones, a SCI peer-mentor organization that goes across the country helping people spinal cord injuries connect. Most recently she was at the Abilities Expo in Houston, Texas representing Backbones. Also known for her style, Priscilla frequently publishes posts on her daily fashion called the Stylish Gimp. Yes, she is non-stop.

But what we love most about Priscilla is her willingness to share her life with the world.  With videos, a very active Instagram account, her blog, as well as being all over social media, she shows the world a spinal cord injury doesn’t have to hold you back.

It’s not easy being so public with so many private things after a SCI, but she does it anyways, helping make our community better.

– Visit her blog: The Wheelchair Mommy

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Facebook

Follow her on Instagram

Watch her videos!

A day in our life

Pushing a shopping cart from a wheelchair

Why Wheelchairmommy