Model: Emma Reyes
Spinal Cord Injury & Arm Amputee
Volunteer, Buoniconti Fund, Miami Chapter
It was 30 years ago, when I suffered a car accident in my native country of Honduras. The accident left me paralyzed from the waist down with a T6 spinal cord injury and with an amputated left arm. I was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital from Tegucigalpa, the capital city, where I was treated for six months. I then returned to my hometown.
At seven years old, I returned to Miami to live a more accessible and better life. That move turned out to be just the beginning of what is now my saving grace. I was finally able to attend school and in 2002, I graduated from Miami Edison Senior High School. I then worked for several years as a volunteer at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, before going back to school to obtain my college degree. I attended Miami-Dade College for my A.A. degree in communications, then in 2010, I transferred to my dream school, University of Miami. There, I completed my bachelor of science in communications with a minor in English in 2014. That accomplishment made me realize that no one could stop me from reaching any goal I put my mind to. I have also been blessed with an amazing support system, which has encouraged me to reach for the moon and stars. The love of those wonderful people has given me the strength to smile on.
I spend my time volunteering as a member of the Buoniconti Fund, Miami Chapter and am a board member of the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group of South Florida. I think there is a big misconception in society when it comes to someone being in a wheelchair. It is believed that he or she can’t speak for him or herself, or he or she has more than just a physical disability. I want to change that misunderstanding. Creating awareness with these organizations will help that, but I also think that misconception can be changed a smile at a time.
“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” Gina Carey
Photographed by Maggie Steber