Recently turning eighteen, four high schoolers, including myself, were involved in a school-related automobile accident, in which an empty semi-mac log truck ran into the car we were all riding.  All were injured, myself being the most seriously hurt. I suffered a traumatic brain injury, which resulted in a nine-month coma. Saying my life dramatically changed in a matter of seconds is an understatement!

My mother tutored me in the three remaining subjects I needed in order to obtain my high school diploma. After two years of junior college, I lived away from home for four years to complete my B.A. degree in Anthropology-Sociology. During all these years I received so much love, support and encouragement that I felt assured that I would succeed in life! Even though I was now confined to a wheelchair, I saw the world as so much larger than my disability that the wheelchair became a mere inconvenience! Try to always put things in the proper perspective!

After living away at college for four years, my desire to live independently became not a wish but, in my opinion, a necessity! I then moved to Raleigh, N.C. and did much volunteer work during my two years there. This work was very fulfilling and satisfying. These two years also helped to build my self-esteem and encouraged me to do things for myself.

After living in N.C. for 39 years, in 1992, my husband, myself and two sons moved to Bethlehem, PA., where we still reside. This move created many challenges but with persistence, perseverance and the support of my friends, as well as various organizations, positive changes could be, and were, made.  Through many conversations and countless letters, a much
needed chair-lift was installed at Bon-Ton at Westgate Mall! I am very proud of this accomplishment and many people benefit from it. After showing my dentist how inaccessible his office was, it is now remodeled and 100% ADA compliant! Many times, just making people aware of the changes that need to be made is a big step, if not all, that needs to be done toward making accessible changes. The L.V. is aware of these changes that need to be
made and with determination and fortitude, it will be accomplished!

Granted all types of disability present some form of a hurdle to conquer, but it does not have to be a bad thing. You have to be your own advocate. If you want something done, DO IT! Remember everybody has a disability, some are more visible than others. Know that your life is
worth so much more than what is on the outside!



By Susan Firman
Community Advocate and DFC Steering Committee member