Joanna – Oregon

About Joanna

Untitled design (58)

Age: 27

From: Portland, Oregon

Occupation: Physician Assistant

Hobbies: Traveling, skiing, gardening, road trips, outdoor adventuring with my husband

Level of Injury: T7 (from chest down)

Date of Injury: February 2009

Cause of Injury: Snowboarding Accident

KBF Grant: Monoski


What is something interesting about you?  It was love at first sight when I first met my husband. I have hand-made several quilts.

What does living an active lifestyle mean to you?  Being outside and enjoying the world!

What are the hardest things about your injury?  Emotionally, that the world treated me differently after my injury. One day I’m a “normal” 21 year old girl, I had just graduated from college, I was active and sporty and carefree. The next day I’m in a wheelchair and people on the street refuse to look at me. I felt that I had to excuse my disability: “I used to be a long distance runner.” “I used to love back packing.” I DESPERATELY miss running and being on a hike alone in the middle of the woods.

How do you solve these and other obstacles?  I mentor newly injured people through their emotional development. Being an advocate for them has interestingly enough helped me strengthen emotionally. And my husband is awesome!! We have a sled that I will sit on and he can tow me around on hikes. He actually proposed to me after snowshoeing me up the side of a mountain! And sometimes I ask strangers to push me in wind storms to my car – a smile and “please” can get a person far!

What is something people don’t know about living in a wheelchair?  That having a spinal cord injury is OKAY. It is not something to pity.

Best experience using your monoski?  When I had my first independent ride on a monoski –  it was on my very own ski! It took a couple years to get to that point and it was a huge accomplishment.

In one word, what has the KBF grant meant to you?  FREEDOM! Freedom from restrictions of having a spinal cord injury. I can get back to skiing “normally” with my friends.

Final thoughts?  Living with a spinal cord injury is kind of like being in high school again. You can do a lot, but you have some restrictions. Currently I CAN do a lot, but my injury is putting a few restrictions on me. These “restrictions” are slowly being torn down as I have the adaptive resources to get back into the activities that I love.