W.E. L.I.V.E

Wellness and Educated, while Living Independently, with Value and Empowerment

  As long as I can remember, my purpose in life has always been to help others. I graduated high school from Robert McQueen High School in 2010, and went into completing my Bachelors of Science in Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. Initially, I thought I wanted to be a Physical Therapist when I grew up- I was always an athlete and I knew from an early age that my passion was learning about the body and how it worked. I also knew that I loved working with people and learning about them while helping them reach their goals. I began working as a Physical Therapy Assistant at Active Physical Therapy and Nevada Physical Therapy early on in my Undergrad career. I was also working as a personal trainer at the age of nineteen at Camie Cragg Fitness. Eventually, my passion for personal training took over and I transitioned into being a personal trainer full time.

            By the time I graduated with BS in Health Science, I wasn’t sure if Physical Therapy was the career choice for me. I had been a successful personal trainer at the time for four years and decided to pursue it as a career. At this point I had found a niche in training people with spinal chord injuries. During my Junior year at UNR, I had to accrue volunteer hours for my disabilities class- I decided to volunteer for a local wheelchair rugby team “The Sierra Storm.” Here is where I met Chris Chapman, the man you met in my last post. I can remember sitting on the bleachers of the gymnasium at the Evyln Mount North East Community Center, ready to take notes. Chris came up to me and asked what I was doing, I responded I was here to volunteer… Next thing I knew, I was put in a rugby chair doing Indian runs, scrimmaging with the team.

            A few months later I got a call from Chris, he was looking for a personal trainer to compliment his training in rugby. I told him that I had no experience with working with people in wheelchairs but that I was willing to learn if he was willing to be patient. I have now been training Chris for six-years. With him having his own nonprofit to help others in wheelchairs, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to train a handful of people with spinal chord injuries. Not only have I been blessed to build some of the most amazing friendships, but I found that training these individuals in their unique set of circumstances has forced me to think outside of the box, challenged me to continue my education and do external research, and pushed me to be more creative and adaptive in designing my workouts.

            When I graduated from UNR in 2014, I took a year to apply to physical therapy schools. I went to a few meet and greets, including Chapman University. I began to question if this was the right path for me, yet I knew that I was not finished with my education. I decided to return back to UNR for my Masters in Business Administration. I chose entrepreneurship as my emphasis with the idea of opening a gym for people with spinal cord injuries in Reno, Nevada, due to the inspiration of all those I had met and trained the last few years. Working close with Chris, I found that this area lacked facilities to accommodate individuals with disabilities and special needs. I was surprised that the Reno/Tahoe area did not offer more resources for people with spinal cord injuries in a place that is abundant in out door sports and activities. We have a nonprofit out of Truckee, California, which I have volunteered for as well. They are a great organization but their focus is on those who have been injured during mountain sports. There is a new hybrid nonprofit CrossFit gym that welcomes people with disabilities yet still does not offer adaptive equipment to maximize the training of people with disabilities.

My ultimate goal to open a gym to provide people with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis, a safe place to continue to reach their physical goals with the guidance, support, inspiration, and resources to live their highest quality of life. I will do this by undivided attention at all times and build relationships with them in order to be able to thoroughly understand their goals, give feedback, and continuously challenge them with new innovative ways to make sure they are reaching their highest fitness potential. W.E. L.I.V.E. will provide accessible and necessary equipment to cater to multiple levels of spinal cord injuries and other forms of physical disabilities. I will partner with local non-profit organizations, such as Livin’ Life on Wheels, to offer scholarships and grants to those who are unable to afford our services, as well as, offer the education and resources that was not given to them by their inpatient rehabilitation providers. Finally, I will build relationships with local physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons in order for them to have a reliable place to refer their patients when they are no longer able to provide the

            Throughout my years in the MBA program, I have focused on opening up this gym in Reno, Nevada, dedicated to people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities. The MBA program has showed me how to be a business owner and entrepreneur. I have been able to create a business and strategic plan embodying what I imagine this place would be. I have dreamt about this for four years now, talked about it out loud, and aligned my short-term goals to eventually reach it. There are days that this idea seems impossible. I find myself sometimes giving up. Then again, I have also watched myself for the last three and a half years in this MBA program building this idea, growing it into something bigger and greater. Someway, somehow, I have not let go of the bigger picture; I have continued to take these small steps towards my end goal. Looking back, I have not given up. I have been through the ups and the downs but remembered what my passion is, my purpose is, and have hung on with all that I’ve got. I graduate in one month with my Master’s, and I keep saying I don’t know what I am going to do,, but I do know what I am going to do, and W.E. L.I.V.E. is it.

Picture Credit: Mikala Huebner

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