Donna Walton: On a Mission for Herself and for Others

"I didn't just lose my leg, I also lost my dream to be a performer,” says Donna R. Walton, whose left leg was amputated above-the-knee due to cancer in March 1976 when she was just 18 years old.
"It was devastating at the time," she adds. "And, honestly, the word ‘devastating’ is an understatement."

Ultimately, Walton defeated the cancer that had taken her leg and almost killed her, came to terms with her limb loss, picked up the shattered pieces of her life, and found other dreams to pursue—dreams she became highly successful at achieving.

Today, she has a doctoral degree in education and is qualified as a cognitive behavioral therapist. She's also taught in private and public schools, colleges, and universities and has held high-level positions working for the federal government over the years. In addition, she has started several organizations to help others, including LEGGTalk ( and Divas With Disabilities (

Resort Wear and Travel

Written By Marina Pascale and Tarita Karsanji-Davenock

Travel is exciting and always brings that special rush to the blood stream. The anticipation of new adventures makes us smile and fantasize. Doctor OZ would say that is a very healthy state of mind and changes chemistry of your body. For some of us, travel brings a long-awaited freedom, confidence and the sense of being equal.
Louise Sertsis, Styling: Marina Pascale, Photo: Alissa Baltazar

I had the privilege to work on this styling project with one original, dynamic woman. Meet
Louise Sertsis – she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, at the age of 20 years old and uses a wheelchair for mobility. With all of the challenges that life put on her, she is still confident, radiant, enthusiastic, and genuine and just wants to be herself. Louise is also a perfectionist. She likes style and elegance. She carefully plans her vacations, choosing clothing that fits well, is easy to change and complementary for the occasion. Despite the challenges in Louise’s life, ultimately she is a woman and has never lost her feminine attractiveness. She is not ready to give up on simple pleasures that highlight her beauty and help her carry that perfect smile with confidence.

From Italy with Love - A Fashion Blogger's Passion

By Kara Aiello
Valentina Tomirotti

I recently had the privilege of interviewing a strong and enlightening woman regarding issues of beauty, fashion, and the rights of those who live with disabilities.  Valentina Tomirotti, who hails from the city of Mantua in northern Italy, came to the attention of when she researched topics of fashion and how it relates to those who live with disabilities. At the age of 32, Ms. Tomirotti was born with a disability called Dysplasia Diastrophic, a rare genetic condition that affects 1 in 500,000 births and is characterized by its defect in creating cartilage that manifests itself in very short physical stature and scoliosis.  

Ms. Tomirotti has had quite a roller coaster ride and is always looking towards the future. Feeling that she was born a writer, became an entrepreneur by passion.  “I have set my path chasing a dream to create from nothing my own jewelry company.” It is a real gem of emotions and actions says Ms. Tomirotti and has set her on a new path she can feel proud of.  “I felt that I had it all wrong and chose a path of studies with a future in the labor movement, but with a perfect stage presence and a stroke of luck I found my passion in fashion. My satisfaction has been in showing that where something is missing, it can show up elsewhere and may work better in its place.”  

White Icing

By Katie Rodriguez Banister

A couple of inches
Of frozen white icing
Reinforce the reality of
My paralysis

My chair can make it
From the bedroom
Down the hall
To my office
Pausing in the kitchen
To munch
And why am I so darn hungry all the time?
I don’t recommend paralysis as a diet plan
But it helps when you can’t open the refrigerator yourself

But it’s not just the icing
That stops me
The temperature isn’t inviting either
The birds are fine
With feathers for weather
Cold blooded bodies
And I wonder
Would l like that?

As I wait
I contemplate
I think it warms up the old gray matter

Looking out my wide and picturesque window
Fully accessible
I’m grateful that the sun is lower
At this time of the year
The rays warm my paralyzed parts
Like hot fudge
On a sundae

I have a body’s thermostat
That cannot regulate itself

Twenty-five years
Of paralysis have passed
And I live with a predominantly healthy mind
But winter
Will always be
An adversary of this woman on wheels

What helps me at this time of year is seeing my therapist, writing, and a good movie. Winter is incredibly difficult.  I’m somewhat affected by SAD (seasonal affected disorder) but writing, painting, checking out Facebook or calling friends usually keeps me in check.  And, my husband is a very sensitive and loving man.
There are occasions though, when I share my less than optimistic feelings with others and they respond with, “Oh Katie. Just snap out of it.”  But for someone with depression that’s much easier said than practiced.  When  my depression kicks I need a little tea and sympathy and with an abundance of white icing,  I drink a lot more tea!   

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Katie Rodriguez Banister, President, Access-4-All, llc
She Is a speaker, author and disability educator.  
Her website is
She has spent half her life as a woman on wheels since an auto accident at age twenty-five.
As a former Miss Wheelchair Missouri her platform was “Creating Healthy Coping Skills” and she has shared her message on a local and national level.