By Dr. Julie Ann Allender
Dr. Julie Ann Allender with Sasha and Bailey!
I became disabled when I was 35 and as anyone who is disabled knows the challenges that are in front of us are different than what the person who is not disabled has to face. I know for myself that tomorrow is always a challenge. I need to get up each day and face whatever I need to face and may or may not have the support of others which means I need to be stronger than my other counter parts, the not disabled. I need to eat, sleep, work, pay bills, etc. just like everyone else, but it takes me a lot longer to accomplish those goals and I have to work harder. Similar to the old saying, “that women had to work twice as hard, accomplish twice as much to be equal to any man”. Being disabled is the same.

It is a strange way to think for many, but being disabled means I must be able to face challenges that others never face. I once said to a friend that I can spend 2-3 hours a day just doing things that need to be done for whatever I need to do: special drops in the eyes, massaging my neuropathy, eating special foods, preparing special foods, using a medical device, etc. Each time I am doing one of these extra things I know it is part of my day, but also taking away time I could be walking, reading a book, talking on the phone, emailing, etc. That means also that I have to get everything else done that people who are not disabled get done with fewer hours to do it.

Monica Quimby Shares her Story of Hope and Success

Monica Quimby

Question: Monica, what did you study in college?
Quimby: I studied molecular biology, and I was really interested in strawberry research. When I was 13- and 14-years old, I worked on a strawberry farm here in Maine.

Question: How did you become a ski instructor?
Quimby: I had snow-skied all my life. I also skied on the ski and board team at the University of New Hampshire, in addition to being a ski instructor. Skiing gave me the feeling of being free. I liked it, because it was an independent sport that I could do on my own whenever I wanted to ski. I also liked the adrenaline rush I got when I skied down a steep slope over bumps and hills and became airborne. At that moment, I was flying, which was one of the greatest sensations in the world. Skiing, my favorite thing in the world to do, was so exhilarating.
At the time, I had already completed 30-back flips on my skis and enjoyed flying forward, straight ahead and upside down and pushing the envelope. I loved the thrill of challenging myself just to see what I could do. The people I hung out with had that same zest for life as I did. A group of us would get together and just go skiing for fun on the weekends and sometimes during the week.
My favorite trail to ski was a double-diamond trail, the steepest and the most-technical slope at the ski resort. I loved that feeling I got when I came down that slope of, “Oh, my gosh, I’m going so fast I am almost out of control.” I really liked skiing on the edge of my ability as well as skiing on that edge of being in and out of control. I’m not a person who has ever done drugs or alcohol. Skiing was my personal stress release and my vehicle to get high on life. Skiing was in fact my “mountain high,” and I never dreamed it could be taken away from me.