In 2009, a C4 spinal cord injury left Stefanie, now thirty-eight years old, paralyzed from the chest down. At the time of her accident, Stefanie had just finished her first semester in advertising for her master’s degree and was an avid and accomplished equestrian.
Stefanie discovered a way to bring horses back into her life through carriage driving. She is one of the only quadriplegic carriage drivers in the world, competing mostly against able-bodied drivers in the U.S. collecting many awards and accolades over the years, including placing fifth in the para–World Championships held in Holland.
“My wheelchair enables me to accomplish my activities of daily living, to drive my car, and to work with the horses. Surprisingly horses immediately accept the wheelchair as being an extension of who I am,” said Stefanie. “Normally horses are frightened of anything “different” but unlike people, they do not mind the wheelchair at all.”
Stefanie and her family have been working with the Louisville team for several years now. Her move to Louisville from California was prompted by her participation in UofL's renowned "Epidural Stimulator" study
“When my wheelchair suddenly stops working, I stop working. I can’t move, and I am at the mercy of other people. My autonomy is suddenly taken away from me and I feel helpless. It is a deeply personal crisis for me. I would say that most people just do not understand this – the personal nature of my wheelchair,” said Stefanie. “My team at Numotion understands this. It is why they are so special to me. To have a person I do not know and trust work on my wheelchair is horrifying.”
Like many others, COVID presented certain challenges to Stefanie and her family. “In response to our pleas for help three remarkable individuals stepped forward to support Stef despite the extreme pressures presented by COVID,” said Marcia, Stefanie’s mom. “Assistive Technology Professional, Cynthia
, Seating Technician, Jerome, and Customer Care Coordinator, Devon have gone "above and beyond" consistently over the past two years, and their cooperation, respect, follow through, attention to detail, and professionalism has been second to none. You have a group of amazingly dedicated and gifted individuals here in Louisville.”
“My wheelchair is so much more to me than just a way of getting around. It is a part of me and enables and empowers me,” said Stefanie. “My power chair gives me the means to reach my goals, overcome challenges, and continue to grow toward ‘independence.’”