HOMEPAGE  www.danieljvance.com




  By Daniel J. Vance


  In 1990, lively Katie was a bouncing, 25-year-old aerobics instructor and recent Central Missouri State graduate. "I loved fun and never sat still," she said of her extremely busy schedule. Then a sport utility vehicle she was in rolled over, and she severely injured her spinal cord. Suddenly, she was a quadriplegic.

  Did her life change?

  "Being a quadriplegic has led to a very happy life," she said from her St. Louis home. "My disability has introduced me to my wheelchair and my husband, who has a degree in rehabilitation counseling. It has given me a career in which I feel blessed. Yes, I miss my independence, but when I'm in my electric wheelchair I also feel very independent, so much so that my family and friends often forget I have a disability."

  She added, "Then again, I can't pretend my disability doesn't exist. It has a down side, and crying has been a good way to deal with it."

  Katie Rodriguez Bannister was named a 2001 "St. Louis Woman of Achievement" for her work as a motivational speaker and raising awareness of disabilities in schools, businesses and organizations. Of 450,000 Americans with a spinal cord injury, 36 percent are automobile accident survivors and 18 percent are female.

  In 2002, she married a man she had met years earlier while lobbying legislators for funding to allow persons with disabilities to live at home instead of in state institutions.

  After her 1990 accident, she underwent six months of rehabilitation. "I was never told by any doctor that I wasn't going to walk again," she said. "It was just [assumed]." Some friends deserted her, while a few long-lost ones returned. Her life changed forever the day a teacher asked her to share with a senior high class about her disability. "The minute I was in front of those kids, I knew what I needed to do (with my life)," she said.

  Now Katie is promoting her new K-3 book, "Aunt Katie's Visit," available for $16.99 on www.amazon.com, in which she recreates on paper the content of her presentations to school kids. The book addresses cognitive, physical, and sensory disability. It could be used as a resource for elementary teachers. In addition, she markets a backpack for wheelchair users.

  Learn more at www.access-4-all.com about this extremely busy woman who even yet loves fun and never sits still. Also see www.spinalcord.org and www.danieljvance.com