- Gender: Female
- Condition: FSH Muscular Dystrophy
- Prior Device: Cane and Scooter
- Main Use: Graduate School, Outdoor Activities, Work
What’s your story?
I’ve always been an incredibly active person—I grew up in Montana, and lived and traveled all over the world. I was a cheerleader as a kid, and enjoyed skiing, boating, and playing volleyball as an adult. For work, I was a model, singer, and actress. After raising 4 children, I owned a thriving interior design business in Los Angeles—that’s when I started experiencing weakness in an arm. The weakness eventually spread to my other arm, then I began to stumble and, long story short, after 11 years of doctors shrugging their shoulders, I was diagnosed with FSH Muscular Dystrophy.
Despite my diagnosis, I decided to return to college and was accepted into a prestigious forensic psychology graduate program in New York City. Soon I’ll be helping to capture some of the most wanted individuals, like serial killers, throughout the northeast.
Why did you choose Model M power wheelchair?
I found out about the WHILL Model M through a Model M owner who also has FSH Muscular Dystrophy. I had always been resistant to owning a power wheelchair since I hated how they looked and felt—they just seem so mechanical with no personality or beauty. The Model M is so different—it’s so sleek and futuristic—I was seriously smitten!
What do you like about Model M power wheelchair?
I love how easy it is to operate, it feels like an extension of my body. It’s ergonomic and designed with the user in mind. When operating my Model M I’m constantly amazed at the speed and smooth ride. I have to admit that I also love the looks and comments. I actually believe people want to try it, they don’t associate it with a disability.
For me, this is such an uplifting experience because I was always afraid that when it was time to get a wheelchair, that people would pity me, or treat me like I was sickly or old. The WHILL Model M brings the “cool” to wheelchairs, and gives me a sense of independence, pride, and empowerment. Instead of shying away from people, I’m the first to be involved. This chair gives me so much more than mobility.
How has the Model M power wheelchair impacted your life?
After living my life with a “CAN DO” attitude about everything, the FSH Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis was bringing me down—I was suddenly saying “can’t do.” Since using Model M, I’m going everywhere, seeing things I have not seen in over a year, accepting invitations, and meeting with friends more frequently. My body isn’t utterly exhausted and in excruciating pain all the time from over exertion. I can honestly say my Model M has given me my life back. I have my will to live!
Note: Heather had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.