By Madeline Delp
Ms. Wheelchair USA
As anyone who has had to take an unconscious ride in an ambulance well knows, life can change in an instant.
I saw the truth of this principle in my own life at the age of ten years old after my mom and I had been in a horrific car accident on our way home after a snowy winter’s day on February 27, 2004. One wrong left turn, a seat belt that smashed against my spine and a couple of broken bones later, I woke up to a new reality that had me gasping for more than air – for hope, for understanding, for healing… I had been paralyzed from the waist down, and my new challenges seemed to test me on such a deep physical and emotional level, it was hard to know how I would ever overcome them.
After over a week in the ER of Mission Hospital and months in a rehabilitation hospital in Charlotte, I came home to begin my journey of accepting a “new normal” and trying to find healing – not only in my body, but in my heart. The next couple of years would test me on a level that I cannot explain. I battled the many self-defeating thoughts of shame, insecurity, embarrassment and worthlessness, all because I felt so different – like an outsider looking in. There was a very significant person in my life who helped me to begin to feel confident and beautiful in myself again, and that was my physical therapist at Mission’s Children’s Hospital, Jessica Granning. After years of therapeutic work, I began to grow stronger, body and mind, and enter the world with confidence instead of self-doubt.
Now, almost 13 years later, I can see how my journey has prepared me for something better than I could have ever imagined. As the new winner of Ms. Wheelchair USA and the founder of the nonprofit organization Live Boundless, I am able to take the many lessons that I have learned over the years and use them to help others as an inspirational speaker and disability advocate.
I also get the chance to partner with Mission Hospital, one of the earliest supporters in my journey toward healing, as I work with a film production team to produce the Live Boundless series, which inspires people to live a full and healthy life regardless of what their physical challenge may be.
I look forward to sharing my adventures with you over this next year and talking about ways to achieve a “boundless” and healthy lifestyle!