When this young California native got in a car accident her senior year of high school that left her T10 paraplegic, she didn’t let it stop her from following her dreams. She continued being the “yes person” she’d always been and fought to get past her obvious limitations.
The story of Chelsie Hill is one that would warm anyone’s heart. Since she was 3 years old, she knew she wanted to dance. After tragedy stuck at 17, she couldn’t do so much as walk or even move her lower body, but she found a way around pursuing her true passion: dance. She remembers waking up 2 weeks after the accident to hear from doctors that she had a spinal cord injury and was unable to work. Her response? "Well, I don’t want to just walk, I want to dance." And she’s been doing just that ever since.
For the last 7 years, with the help of her father, Hill has also been using the non-profit they started called the E.P.I.C. project (Empowering People In Chairs), to inspire other people in the same situation. Today, that non-profit is known as the Walk and Roll Foundation and it also works to raise money to provide wheelchairs for those in need.
Now 25 years of age, Chelsie Hill has gone on to create one of the world’s biggest wheelchair dance groups, the Rollettes. The group is made of six women, in wheelchairs who love to dance and spread that passion to empower other women in chairs. Speaking on how big her non-profit efforts in raising awareness and empowering women have gone, Hill says she had never thought that all that has happened would ever come from it. She also shared that she does dance intensives every 6 months, traveling around the United States to meet different people. And for her, the coolest part is meeting girls of the same age who don’t get to hang out with other girls in chairs.
She jokes about how they are able to ask each other the random questions like, “How do you wear heels?” or “How do you get dressed in your chair?” which they are unable to ask able-bodied friends. As well as intimate or embarrassing ones like, “How do you have sex?”, which don’t seem appropriate to burden their parents with. It’s clear that Hill treasures being in the company of her fellow disabled women and wants to go far in encouraging women around the world in chairs.
So far, social media has played a huge role in Chelsie Hill’s rise to fame. From the sharing of her blogs and YouTube videos, she recently appeared on the Ellen Show to show off one of her wheelchair dance routines that went viral. In her interview with People Magazine, she talks about how she wants to make a difference with how people view dancing. She also insists that it’s not all that different than dancing with legs when you’re rolling and says that dance to her is a feeling.
It’s no surprise that her positive spirit is allowing Hill make a difference in the lives of many. She speaks passionately about the power of the word “Yes!” to her and how much it has changed the way she goes about her life.
Hill recently became a Wings for Life ambassador, joining her fellow teammate on the Rollettes, Steph Aiello, who also recently shared her story being quadriplegic with People magazine. According to her, joining the Wings for Life foundation has been a dream she’s had for many years and she’s happy to be “all-in” with the team as she continues to pursue other business ventures.
Image credit: People.com