Do what you like, like what you do!
That is pretty much the coolest Facebook photo album title. The owner? Maegan Clark, a quad who has proven to herself and others that she is a force to be reckoned with.
20 yrs old, 3 years PI (post injury)
Maegan was a spunky 17 year old when a diving accident changed the way she would look at life forever. I met Maegan when she was still in the hospital, about 3 weeks after her diving accident. A positive, free-spirited teenager, she had had her life turned upside-down because of paralysis. I’ve watched her blossom into a role-model for other spinal cord injuries through her go-getter attitude. Not surprising, her motto is “Carpe Diem!” Her lack of inhibition continues to inspire.
Recently, Maegan and I spoke about what motivates her and what some of her challenges and triumphs have been throughout these past 3 years. Her profile and the great answers to the questions I had for her are below. Mother, Keela. Father, Mike. Sister, Katie. From Gilbert, AZ, attending ASU & studying for a degree in environmental sciences.
Who inspires you?
Corbin Beu. He is one of the coolest people I know. He does everything, including make his own equipment and traveling worldwide playing sports. He’s an all around bada**!
Sonya Perduta-Fulginiti- She got her nursing degree AFTER her injury 30-something years ago.
What motivates you?
Helping others and succeeding
What does it take to succeed as a quad?
A lot of patience and innovation with everything! Dressing, driving, everything. Find what works best for you. We didn’t have to think about it before (when we were able-bodied) but now we do.
Practice- you don’t want to but just do it! Things aren’t difficult because you’re a quad; some people just don’t know what they can do.
Maegan does have more hand function than a higher level injury -but- I’ve seen a quadruple amputee drive, have known at least three artists who paint with mouth wands and a handful of professionals who don’t have any use of their arms or hands.
Basically, no excuses. You can do it- “Mind over matter, all the way.”
How have you changed from before your injury?
I realized I didn’t understand the meaning of living life to the fullest because I never experienced it before my whole world changed. You really learn to appreciate what you have but it’s hard tell someone this who hasn’t had it happen to them. The things I thought were important before are not so important. I feel less held back now, more Carpe Diem, seize the day!
When I was a new injury a bunch of people (in wheelchairs) came to see me and I saw how people could still be normal. Don’t get me wrong, I had some tough days. When I came home from the hospital, I cried for 3 days straight but then on the 3rd day I took a look at my situation and and decided to move on. Now, 3 years later, I am not worried as much because I can take care of myself. I want to help others, like those who have helped me. I know what it takes to succeed and want to pass it on.
What are some unexpected challenges?
My challenges were less about self-pity and more about outside things like dealing with insurance companies and lawyers. I didn’t expect it to be so hard (to be paralyzed) even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I didn’t expect to have the abilities of a 2 year-old for a while; not being able to do simple things like open a water bottle or dress myself. But then things started progressing and it got better.
What are some unexpected benefits?
I am happier now than I have ever been. Being paralyzed is the best thing that has ever happened to me because I’ve been able to go scuba diving and be on TV for going off-roading (with Disabled Explorers).
What have you done since your injury?
I attend college for environmental sciences via Voc Rehab, drive a modified Honda Element, and mentor other new injuries. Recently, I gave a speech at a my old high school, got into rowing and scuba diving, played some quad rugby, and participated in this team-building project for class where we made a prosthetic hand for someone in another country. I love being able to contribute to someone else’s wellbeing. That hand changed someones life and I discovered that helping others inspires me.
If I had any mental barriers, they didn’t stop me. I started getting involved in all the programs and things that were available. Corbin does everything and travels the world and that has motivated me to take all opportunities that cross my path. Basically anything that was available to me as a person in a wheelchair I did.
What are your goals for the future?
Get my degree and go into renewable energy. It is a very accessible field, even if you may not necessarily be able to go to a site with tough terrain. I also want to go to the Paralympics for swimming and to continue to contribute to my community.
All in all…
They are no excuses for not pursuing what you want just because you’re in a chair. Anything is attainable. When there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want it bad enough, you’ll do it!