Tag Archives: bicycle

My Health, Independence and Financial Challenges 5 Years After Injury

Danielle Watson became paralyzed from the waist down in June 2011. In May 2016, Danielle completed her master’s in occupational therapy.


People are shocked all the time that I drive and live independently. I don’t blame them, because I didn’t know what people with disabilities could do either, until my injury. I have managed (with help from others) to figure out how to live independently.

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

“I have managed to figure out how to live independently.”

I consider my wheelchair to be an extension of myself at this point. It really bothers me to hear the terms “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair bound” because the wheelchair is an awesome machine that allows me to be independent. I also rely on my NuProdx shower bench and I now have one on the toilet, too, to prevent pressure sores. My car is also an important part of my independence. It has been adapted with hand controls.

I have had increasing complications with my health over the past 5 years. Unfortunately, spinal cord injury affects many of my bodily systems, so I must continue to adapt. The average person doesn’t realize that I am not just sitting. That is the easiest part. Spinal cord injury affects all body systems. I usually keep this hidden from people and try to portray that I have everything together. However, I constantly have to think about my bladder, my digestion, my bones, my joints, my body mechanics, avoiding pressure sores, my temperature, my water intake…the list goes on!

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

Danielle fell 250 feet. The injury “affects many of my bodily systems”

Therapy has had a huge impact on my life. I am so grateful to have had so many good health professionals after my injury. I already wanted to be a therapist before my accident, but my injury introduced me to occupational therapy, which I had never heard of before. My hope is that I can use my personal experience and empathy to help others after a life-altering injury.

I have faced significant financial challenges since the injury. By the time I get my license to practice OT, I will have been unemployed for almost 6 years. I have student loans from undergraduate schooling that I have been unable to pay off and they have been accumulating interest. I had to decide if I would be able to live my life on social security or minimum wage or take on the loans and the hope for a better life. I am trying to do the right thing and support myself financially.

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

“I am trying to do the right thing and support myself financially.”

HelpHOPELive has thankfully shielded me from many of the medical expenses that go along with this injury. I don’t know how I would survive without it. There are a lot of supplies and pieces of equipment that I need that Medicare doesn’t cover. Sometimes Medicare makes errors and I get stuck with huge medical bills. I have lived in five different places within the last 5 years and I have had to renovate them all to make them accessible. When I begin to work, I will lose Medicare and I will have private insurance, but I am thankful to HelpHOPELive for helping me cover deductibles, medications and procedures through fundraising.

The HelpHOPELive campaign in my honor has been extremely important because I don’t have to agonize over purchases or costs that are medically necessary or helpful in maintaining my independence, which really contributes to my mental health. I have so many other worries with my spinal cord injury that it is really helpful to have one less worry.

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

Fundraising helps Danielle to live independently.

I was introduced to adaptive sports 6 months after my injury. I skied as soon as I was medically able. Oregon Adaptive Sports has been crucial to my recovery–I received scholarships for the lessons I needed to learn to ski and they have been a family to me. I met most of my friends though OAS and I continue to be a participant and an advocate for the organization. HelpHOPELive helps with the expenses that are not covered by the scholarships I get.

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

Danielle participates in adaptive sports, triathlons and marathons.

I love to travel now just as much as I did before my injury. Having the right equipment really helps. I have a shower chair that comes apart and fits into a small square bag. That has made travel a lot easier, and I bring it with me everywhere. I want to travel the world but currently it is easier and more accessible for me to travel within the United States because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

Travel is easier for Danielle with the right adaptive equipment.

I look forward to being self-sufficient again. I look forward to buying a home someday that I can renovate for my needs, and I look forward to getting into a routine that will allow me to finally get my finances under control.

Thankfully, I have a degree in philosophy, so I had a lot of time to think about big questions before my injury. I believe in the power of your thoughts and your words to manifest your life. I try my best to shed the thoughts that don’t serve me well and think positively. I have gotten better at this over time and I believe it is something you can practice until it becomes more natural. Having a disability can be alright if you have access to the right equipment and support, which is why HelpHOPELive is so necessary.

Danielle Watson HelpHOPELive

“Having a disability can be alright if you have access to the right equipment and support.”


Learn more about Danielle and make a contribution in her honor at helphopelive.org. Follow her blog for ongoing insights on life and possibilities after injury.

Voices Of Hope: It’s Been One Year Since My Heart Transplant

Avid cyclist Bill Soloway was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the 1990s. The debilitating effects of the condition forced him to cut back on his favorite hobbies and his career as a skilled craftsman. Exactly one year ago, Bill received a lifesaving heart transplant. Here are Bill’s thoughts on fundraising with HelpHOPELive and finding your new normal after transplant.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill got a heart transplant one year ago today


How is your relationship with your family?


I have a very supportive fiancée, Kathy; my 86-year-old father, John; and my 23-year-old daughter, Amanda. They have been with me every step of the way. I am also very blessed to be surrounded by many close friends with whom I have ridden my bicycle over the years. I consider them my second family.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says family and friends support him “every step of the way”


How has your family played a role in your health journey?


Kathy has done most of the heavy lifting along with my cycling friends. They accompanied me to my medical appointments and made sure I had everything that I needed. They would stop over and spend time with me. My father lives over an hour away so we video chatted a lot when I was in the hospital, and Amanda would tag along when she could to offer support.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill’s fiancee and friends have “done most of the heavy lifting”


Is your community helping you to fundraise?


A very close friend of mine, Dennis Brown, along with a handful of other friends lead the charge when it comes to fundraising. I am currently fundraising for the costly medications and other post-transplant medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.

I have had two successful fundraisers so far: Spin For Soloway, a spin-a-thon held at a gym in which I am an indoor cycling instructor; and Pizza For A Purpose, held at a favorite local restaurant where a percentage of food sales were donated to my campaign.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


How do you feel about fundraising with HelpHOPELive?


HelpHOPELive has been very supportive in helping me achieve my fundraising goals. Everyone who I have come into contact with has taken the time to get to know me and understand my fundraising needs. They have provided fundraising ideas and marketing materials for my events, and they have also provided new ideas to help promote my cause.

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says HelpHOPELive has helped him achieve his fundraising goals

After considering several online fundraising sites, HelpHOPELive was the only one I connected with. A coordinator spoke with me and Kathy on the phone at great length about all of the resources available and how to best use certain features on the HelpHOPELive website. I felt that my Fundraising Coordinator took a personal interest in me, and I didn’t get that with any of the other fundraising platforms that I looked into. HelpHOPELive staff have even come out to support me at one of my events since their offices are very close to my area! What an awesome surprise!


What is the biggest change to your life since your transplant?


New life, new set of rules! Dealing with medications and side effects has been a challenge, and so has being immunosuppressed. Having a new heart that is getting used to this body and allowing my body to get used to the heart is challenging as well. I will be celebrating this transplant “first birthday” with my family and all my friends with a big barbecue!

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill says his life post-transplant comes with a “new set of rules”


Is it challenging to manage a chronic health condition while being a father?


I think it’s a challenge to manage a chronic health condition or transplant, period! Being a father just adds more stress because you have to worry about more than just yourself.


What’s the best part about being a dad?


The best part is watching your kids grow up and sharing life experiences with them. You get to share in their successes and their struggles. They grow up quick! My advice to new dads is to take lots of pictures and spend lots of time doing things you like to do together as they grow up or you’ll have no memories to talk about when they get older. Plus, you’ll have a lot of good stories and adventures to tell your grandkids about their parents!

Bill Soloway HelpHOPELive

Bill tells dads to “take lots of pictures” and prioritize time with kids


Check in on Bill’s life after transplant at helphopelive.org. If you want to learn more about family support and fundraising possibilities before and after a lifesaving transplant, click or tap the Follow button to get emailed when we release new Blog posts.