CURE NATION: Five years ago, Martha Childress was just beginning her first semester of college, with dreams of becoming a marketing and management professional.
Out of the blue, a stray bullet fell from the sky and struck her, causing a T-11 spinal cord injury.
Below, Martha shares her story and path to becoming comfortable again in her own skin. We were thrilled to meet Martha during the Rollettes Experience and we know you’ll love getting to know her too!
Martha Childress Faces Life head-on After SCI
No one expects to endure a spinal cord injury. There’s no warning, no chance to prepare. One day, someone is living their life, then, in a blink of an eye, their story changes. And, while everyone moves through recovery in their own way, there’s one thing for sure – acquiring a disability impacts a person’s life in profound ways.
Martha Childress was just a month into her freshman year of college in Columbia, South Carolina, when she survived a truly unexpected injury. She couldn’t know that across the street from where she was, a gunfight was happening and one of the bullets would stray. Although she never saw the shot coming, Martha survived the impact.
VIDEO: ABC NEWS SHARES MARTHA’S HONEST TAKE ON GOING BACK TO COLLEGE WITH SCI – she is not your inspiration! She’s just real.
After just two months of rehab at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Martha returned home, committed to assimilating back into her life. She returned to college, continued on with her marketing and management program and earned her degree.
Martha soon realized, though, that her goals and interests had changed – and she couldn’t see herself sitting behind a desk for the rest of her career. Instead, she saw a future where the could help others, be active and also creative at the same time.
While Martha was deciding what to do next, she found that she was drawn to a career that had recently helped her; a career where she could pay forward some of the support she had received.
Martha shares, “Occupational Therapy (OT) had an impact on me when I was injured. I like the idea of helping people however I can with whatever resources we have available.”
Martha continues, “I think one of the most impactful parts about OT is giving people the ability to do the little, everyday tasks that we don’t really think about. Like, how do I go to the grocery store and push a cart? With OT, people get to actually try those things out. Therapists have to think creatively about how to make something work for someone.”
Martha Applies for Occupational Therapy School
These days, Martha says her entire life is about applying for grad school and finishing up the necessary prerequisites. She expects to be done with the application process by the end of the year and looks forward to a little down time before embarking on her new career.
Have you considered a career in Occupational Therapy? The American Occupational Therapy Association offers some great information and resources to get started!
Peer Support Helped Martha Find Her Way
When Martha returned to college after rehab, she was able to find an adaptive yoga class that included students with not only SCI, but various other disabilities. Martha says this was her first exposure to a “peer support setting” and it was a really positive experience.
“Peer support has been really valuable,” Martha explains. “It’s important to talk to other people about what you’re going through – people that also use wheelchairs. Because, as much as our loved ones have good intentions and support us in so many way, no one truly understands what it’s like unless they are experiencing it.”
“It means a lot to have that community that can rally behind you,” she continues. “Plus, you can learn from other’s examples.”
The Rollettes have been another positive source of motivation and encouragement for Martha. This summer, she travelled to L.A. to attend the Rollettes Experience and says it was just the “push in the right direction” that she needed.
Martha reflects, “The longer you’re in a chair, the more your mindset changes about what your life can mean in the chair. Even nearly five years into this, I’m still getting used to being comfortable in the chair sometimes. At times, I still feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. So, at the Rollettes Experience, it was pretty powerful to be around so many strong, empowered women that use wheelchairs.”
Get involved with the 2019 Rollettes Experience here!
Martha Travels to Thailand to Educate and Promote Adaptive Sports
This past March, Martha was granted the opportunity of a lifetime. Through a friend of a friend, she was contacted by someone from Clemson University’s Recreational Therapy Department. They explained that they were putting together a cohort with the National Ability Center that would travel together to Thailand for the purpose of educating future gym teachers about adaptive sports.
“Our role would be to demonstrate various adaptive sports and help the teachers understand how to adapt their classes for everyone,” Martha explains. “I am definitely not a professional athlete, but they wanted to show that anyone, at any level, can participate.”
“Our group demonstrated wheelchair tennis, archery, swimming and handball for individuals who are visually impaired.”
The trip was a week long and they were warmly welcomed everywhere they went. Martha shares, “The people there were so incredibly kind. They seemed to be a very giving and helping culture; very accepting. They were excited to learn what we were there to show them.”
When it came to accessibility, Thailand had its challenges, but Martha says she wouldn’t have missed the opportunity. “The sidewalks are pretty much a no-go for people in chairs,” Martha recalls. “They’re not wide enough and very slanted. We pushed in the streets when we were going around town. It was fine, though, because we had a big group with us, so we felt protected.”
It’s possible, Martha says, that Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, could have been more accessible. At least, though, most public places had an accessible bathroom!
“It’s all about your mindset. I’m not going to miss out on going somewhere because it might not be accessible. Some places, you have go there with the understanding that you will have to adapt. If you know that going in, it’s not as big of a disappointment when something’s not accessible.”
Martha Childress Shares Her Two Cents on Cure Medical
Martha Childress is a big fan of Cure Medical and she shares, “It’s very difficult to find companies that turn their profits into something that benefits the people using the products.”
Above, Martha is referring to the Cure Commitment – the promise Cure Medical makes to donate 10% of net income from every Cure catheter sold to fund medical research programs in pursuit of a cure for paralysis.
Learn more about Cure Catheters and our Cure Commitment to the SCI community.
You can help support our mission in pursuit of a cure for paralysis too, simply by Choosing to Use a Cure Catheter.
Try the Cure Twist®
– Ready to Use Catheter for Women
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Ready to use, it features an easy, twist open top and polished eyelets on a pre-lubricated straight tip that allows for ‘No Drip/No Mess’ cathing. The Cure Twist® is offered with a universal funnel end for maximum compatibility with drainage solutions.
To request free samples of the Cure Twist® Ready-to-Use Catheter or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
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