Model: Bethany Davis
I was a fifth-grade teacher for six years when I went on a vacation to Disney World. I was 32 years old. Near the end of my stay at the hotel, I experienced a severe headache and went to bed, hoping that sleep would help dissipate this headache by the morning. During the night I got up to use the bathroom, blacked out, and fell. I suffered a stroke which left me with aphasia (an impairment in language) and paralysis of my right side.
After six weeks of intense rehabilitation, I went home and immediately started working on my “new” life. This required outpatient treatment and
continuing therapy to this day. It was challenging for me, but I was able to renew my driver’s license which helped to give me confidence and to feel
like a more “normal” person. Unfortunately, I was unable to teach again which made me very sad. I am still despondent about not being able to teach.
However, I can volunteer at my school twice a week which keeps me busy and allows me to be a part of my former teaching life. I also started working at a part-time job at a local factory. In my spare time (!), I went to the YMCA for a swimming program for people with disabilities.
While at the YMCA I learned about an organization called Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports (PCAS). PCAS is made up of volunteers passionate about their sport and who want people with disabilities to experience the joy they do.
My first PCAS experience was rowing on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. What an exhilarating experience! Next came the skiing, cycling, kayaking, tennis, and sailing programs. PCAS afforded me more acceptance in accepting my body – my deformities due to the stroke. It was wonderful to know that there were so many things that I could accomplish with PCAS involvement. It is fair to say that PCAS has transformed my life. I stay positive as much as I can! And I help others stay positive, as well.
“I have a fun life – and I never thought it possible after that fateful day.”
Photographed by Freddy Mahugu