Julie's Life Was Just Beginning...
“Everything I have wanted, I now have” says Julie. “It may have taken a bit longer, but not much.”
Julie’s life was just beginning. As a happy young teenager she just started school at the University of Waterloo.
It is such a large change, meeting new friends and trying to adjust to living away from home in Owen Sound. Julie however, never expected for her life to change so suddenly and so severely.
Coming home with friends one night, the driver of the car she was a passenger in, lost control on the highway. Everyone in the car was injured. Julie’s injuries, however, were the most severe.
At 19, Julie was left paralyzed. Her life as she knew it had changed - and changed drastically.
But, Julie was not the type of person to give up. Nor were her circle of friends and family members. Her parents in particular, made sure that he found the resources to help his daughter, the oldest of three, on the road to recovery.
During rehabilitation, they discovered Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario (CPA Ontario). Once back home, Julie met Heather, a Regional Services Coordinator. CPA Ontario’s Regional Services are in your community providing practical help, advocacy and assistance to people with spinal cord injuries. It is only through your continued support that we can offer these valuable services.
“Heather was there for me and my family, and she still is,” recalls Julie. “She taught me that my life could begin again – the goals and desires I had could still be met.”
“I started with driving again, when Heather and my father found me a hand control car. Within a year of my accident, I was driving to do volunteer work at the high school I graduated from.”
“Heather was there for me and twenty-two years later, she still is there - through all the milestones in my life” says Julie. In this way, Heather is very much like you. Because you care, your support helps newly injured individuals and their families navigate through one of the most difficult times in their lives. And you do, every day, through all the milestones.
Today, I hope we can count on you to be there again. Your support will ensure each and every Ontarian who sustained a spinal cord injury has someone to guide them on the path of recovery.
“My first goal was to learn to drive again. When my father purchased a car with hand controls I was soon driving to do volunteer work at the high school I graduated from,” Julie recalls.
Work was the next milestone for Julie. Within 6 months of her accident, she was able to get her first full time job, at the Owen Sound OPP doing computer work. Obtaining employment was a huge milestone for Julie as it is for most persons with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Research shows that employment is a crucial contributor to improved adjustment in all aspects of life, including financial satisfaction, social life, self-determination, independence and health.
Working was satisfying for Julie but she still had another milestone ahead. With encouragement of Heather, together they visited the University of Kitchener Waterloo Campus and toured the Accessibility Centre, Residence and Attendant Services. So, back to school Julie went and in 1993, just five years after her accident, she graduated with Honours, Bachelor Math and Business Administration – another milestone accomplished.
Julie has worked hard to get to where she is and, today is happily married with two young children and working full time for IBM. She has determination and has never looked at her disability as limiting. Before getting married her goal was to walk down the aisle on her wedding day. Determined, she got leg braces and crutches and practiced over and over until she did walk down the aisle with both her parents at her side!
“Everything I have wanted, I now have” says Julie. “It may have taken a bit longer, but not much.” At 40 years old Julie is thankful that she has CPA Ontario in her life. “You help bring hope to people who are newly injured through ongoing support, education and advocacy for anything that life throws your way, throughout all the stages and milestones,” says Julie.
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There are 600 new spinal cord injuries every year in Ontario (more than one a day) and current estimates indicate that there are approximately 33,140 Ontarians living with spinal cord injury. (Urban Futures Institute Report)
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