As an author, public speaker and disability advocate, Mark E. Smith has made quite a name for himself in the mobility industry. Mark, who was born with cerebral palsy, works as a manager at Quantum Rehab®, where he gives input on various projects, conveys marketing needs and provides consumer feedback to the company's Research and Development team.
In addition to working at Quantum, Mark is one of the most prolific writers in the mobility industry. Since 2007, he has written a monthly column for New Mobility, and he has published four books. His latest book, Wheels of Change, chronicles the 40-year history of modern complex rehab technology as well as its impact on many people's lives, including his own.
When Mark isn’t working, he is reaching out to people in the disability community through public speaking and his website, powerchairdiaries.com. Mark and his wife Holly are raising their two daughters in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Mark says that through all of his experiences, he has learned that people who have disabilities are truly just people after all.
Bryan Anderson resides in the Chicago area near his parents, Jim and Janet; identical twin brother, Bob; and teenage sister, Briana. In addition to academics, Bryan excelled at sports during his high school years and competed as an accomplished gymnast in state-level competitions. Following graduation, he worked for American Airlines™ as a ground crew chief at O'Hare International Airport.
Bryan enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 2001 and had a "ship out" date of Sept. 11, 2001. He served two tours of duty in Iraq and was stationed in the Baghdad area. He attained the rank of Sergeant in the military police, conducted police training courses in Iraq and gained additional law enforcement experience at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary as a prison guard.
In October 2005, Bryan was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that resulted in the loss of both of his legs and his left hand. As a result of his injuries, he was awarded a Purple Heart. Bryan received rehabilitation for a period of 13 months at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He is one of the few triple amputees to have survived his injuries in Iraq.
Bryan's story has received extensive media coverage, including a cover story in USA Today, two feature articles in Esquire magazine (including one cover shot in January 2007) and numerous articles in major newspapers and publications, from his hometown Chicago Sun Times to the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. He also appeared in a 60 Minutes segment profiling actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise.
Bryan has appeared in the HBO® Documentary Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq and the CSI: NY episode "DOA for a DAY," as a murder suspect. He appeared in the Golden Globe Award-winning film The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, which was released in December 2008. Bryan was interviewed by MTV News' "Choose or Lose Street Team" and has appeared on the daytime drama All My Children. He was the subject of the Captain America comic Theater of War: To Soldier On, released in August 2009. Bryan's book, No Turning Back, was released Nov. 1, 2011, and he hosted a PBS show in the Chicago area, Reporting for Service with Bryan Anderson, which received an Emmy Award. He also received a Telly Award for his work on a Quantum Rehab® product video titled "Life Beyond Limits" and appeared in an episode of Hawaii 5-0 in 2014.
Bryan is a national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab, a Pride Mobility Products® company, and he travels the country making numerous personal appearances while delivering his message of perseverance and determination in major rehab facilities. In addition, he is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation™ and a spokesperson for USA Cares®, a national non-profit organization based in Radcliff, Ky., that assists post-9/11 veterans in times of need.
Bryan is an energetic and enthusiastic individual who enjoys challenging his limits. He snowboards, wakeboards, whitewater rafts and rock climbs. He loves to travel and enjoys meeting new people.
For additional background information, you may visit Bryan's website at andersonactive.com.
Diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, Newburgh, N.Y., native Josh McDermott has always been sensitive to the feelings of people with disabilities. As a teenager, Josh became active in the disability community, sharing his experience with muscular dystrophy in hopes that it would help people in similar situations.
At the age of 18, Josh became a national spokesperson for Quantum Rehab®. Now, he is a leading voice for people with disabilities. As a Quantum spokesperson, Josh attests to the value of complex rehab technology, explaining how it has helped him live an active life.
As a longtime owner of mobility devices, Josh has a wealth of product knowledge. He speaks very highly of his Quantum Q6 Edge 2.0® Power Chair with iLevel® Power Adjustable Seat Height. With this chair, he has better access to his environment, and he can look people in the eye when he talks to them, which he says is important.
One of Josh's greatest passions is helping people live their lives to the fullest. As one who has a disability, he understands the importance of having the right equipment, and he enjoys guiding people in their quest to find it. Much of his time is spent traveling across the country attending trade shows and meeting with others who have disabilities. Josh has participated in telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, met with consumers at the Abilities Expo shows, and volunteered at the Center for Courageous Kids, a camp for children with various medical conditions and disabilities.
Josh has been featured in Mobility Management, a publication written especially for mobility and rehab suppliers and clinicians. Josh was interviewed by editor Laurie Watanabe for an edition which focused on issues related to living with muscular dystrophy. Additionally, he has been featured in Quantum's My Edge advertisements, which have appeared online and in industry trade publications.
In his spare time, Josh enjoys a number of outdoor activities. Never one to stay inside and sit on his computer all day, he loves riding quads and hanging out at the beach, attributing his love of the outdoors to growing up in a family that preferred camping trips over hotel rooms for vacations. In the future, Josh plans to spend his winters in Florida because the warm weather is good for his muscles.
Whatever the future holds, Josh is determined to meet it with his trademark good nature and never look back.
There's no stopping Stephanie Woodward. In May 2013, Stephanie graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a Juris Doctorate in law and a Master of Science in cultural foundations of education in which her concentration also earned her a Certificate of Advanced Study in disability studies. In the summer of 2013, the Rochester, N.Y., native moved to Miami, Fla., after passing the Florida Bar Exam and accepting a position as an advocate with Disability Independence Group. Stephanie is currently being considered to become an attorney by the Florida Bar Association.
Stephanie, who has spina bifida, says her areas of focus in her education and career are no coincidence. In her new job, Stephanie works on disability rights cases ranging from basic access issues such as restaurant inaccessibility to removing disabled people from institutions.
While an undergraduate at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., Stephanie was a transportation advocate part-time for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester. She also worked on the disability council of Sen. Tom Harkin, who authored the bill that created the American Disabilities Act, and completed an internship at Empire Justice, a non-profit legal organization in Rochester that helps people with disabilities get the proper legal services they need.
During law school, Stephanie was a research assistant for the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, which works to advance the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities. During her final year at Syracuse, Stephanie was chosen as the inaugural fellow for the Olinsky Law Group/Burton Blatt Institute Fellowship, which enabled her to learn about disability law cases with the Olinsky Law Group and continue as a research assistant at the Burton Blatt Institute.
Stephanie says her Q6 Edge® helps her to fulfill her busy schedule from the courtroom to a night out with friends.
Life changed in an instant for Ondelee Perteet.
When he was just 14 years old, Ondelee, of Chicago, Ill., was attending a birthday party when some people started to get rowdy. Ondelee tried to break up a fight and one of the young men pulled out a gun, shooting Ondelee in the face. The bullet went through Ondelee's jaw, breaking two bones in his neck and severing his spine. Ondelee, a promising swimmer who wanted to be like Olympian Michael Phelps, became a quadriplegic.
Now, Ondelee keeps busy giving motivational speeches to his peers around the Chicago area. His schedule is booked up with many speaking engagements from schools to community events where he tells his story and speaks out against inner city violence and what it does to people and their families.
In March 2013, Ondelee spoke to over 2,000 attendees at a Chicago event held by Nonviolence: No Higher Calling (NONVIO). NONVIO, a movement launched by the Art of Living Foundation, is committed to counteracting the 10 million acts of violence perpetrated in the U.S. every year.
Although doctors told him that he would never move his arms or legs again, Ondelee now has good movement in his right arm and has some movement in his left arm. He can also take steps unassisted without a cane for short distances.
Ondelee hopes to one day tour the country as a motivational speaker. He says he will speak wherever he can and to whomever will have him.
If Jesse Cuellar were to offer one piece of advice, it would be, “Make sure to stay humble and remember anything is possible.” After all, he would know best – after a C3-C4 spinal cord injury left him paralyzed from the neck down in 2010, Jesse had the option of giving up his passion for art or continuing in any way possible. Now he makes beautiful paintings using his mouth, proving that anything is possible, while still staying humble. He’s earned the advice he gives to others.
Drawing on life experiences he’s had, the 33-year-old St. Louis resident, originally from California, uses his talent to create pictures of beauty, which he enjoys sharing with others. His art has been featured in a range of magazines and he has received an award from his local news channel for making a difference in the world of others.
Aside from his love of art, Jesse also enjoys spending time with his friends and adding to his impressive shoe collection.
Jesse says his Q6 Edge® 2.0 with iLevel® allows him to do what he loves – painting. He is grateful that he has the ability to partake in his passion and is happy to represent Quantum Rehab.
Kiel Eigen lives a very active life. If the Old Forge, Pa., native isn't attending his college classes, he's probably pumping iron at the gym or showing some team spirit at a local sporting event. For Kiel, life is all about experience.
At the age of 14, when he was in eighth grade, Kiel's life took an unexpected turn. While tackling another player during a school football game, he broke his C5 vertebrae and injured his spinal cord.
Today, Kiel is a criminal justice major at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and he hopes to be a disability rights lawyer one day. At home, Kiel has the support of a loving family. His parents, Kandi and Keith, and his older brother, Jared, are always willing to help him with anything he needs.
Between his various engagements, Kiel attends regular physical therapy sessions at Allied Services in Scranton, Pa. Now, thanks to his hard work, he is able to walk very short distances with braces and a walker. When he was a senior at Old Forge High School, he demonstrated that feat in front of a large audience.
Going forward, Kiel plans to keep focusing on family, friends, weights and everything in between.
Few people get to see their nation's capital as often as Madonna Long. When Madonna visits Washington, D.C., however, you won't find her hanging at the Smithsonian all day. As an advocate for people with disabilities, her calendar is always packed.
A former high school track athlete who ran 100-meter hurdles and did the long jump, Madonna, who lives in Greensburg, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh, sustained a spinal cord injury in a bus accident when she was 18.
While she was shopping for wheelchair tires one day, Madonna learned of a job opening in Quantum Rehab®'s Government Affairs department. Shortly thereafter, she was offered a part-time position as a consumer advocate at Quantum. In this role, Madonna educates policymakers on disability issues in hopes of effecting positive change.
When she was 22, Madonna met Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who was a big supporter of the spinal cord research clinic Madonna attended. At 28, Madonna ran for Nevada State Assembly, and she and Reid campaigned together during that time.
In addition to all of her work on Capitol Hill, Madonna is a mother to four children. She continues to educate legislators on disability issues.