Monica Quimby Tells Why She Doesn’t See Herself in a Wheelchair

Editor’s Note: When you live life on the edge as Monica Quimby did as an adventure-seeking skier, you have to realize that at any moment you may get dinged-up, hurt bad or possibly die. Yet, is life worth living, if you don’t have the ability to look death in the face and smile? On a fateful day in 2006, Monica Quimby looked her worst fear in the eyes. Part 3 of a four-part series.

Monica Quimby graduates to the next level of her life.

Monica Quimby graduates to the next level of her life.

Question: Did you have any depression after your accident?

Quimby: Not really, because I don’t see myself in a wheelchair. I see myself as up and walking. I can drive, I can go to work, and I can do anything I want to do.

The biggest problem I’ve had since the accident was when I came home from the hospital. My whole world had turned upside-down. When I arrived at home, there was a ramp at the front door, and my bedroom, which had been upstairs, was now downstairs.

Although I didn’t get upset because I was paralyzed, I did get irritated with all the changes that had taken place after I became paralyzed.

I decided not to sweat the small stuff, since all the changes were to make my life easier. I finally realized, “Ok, I have all these different adaptations, so I can still be a productive member of society.”

Question: How did you get your life back together after the accident?

Quimby: The big thing was I went back to college. I’d only missed one semester due to  the accident. I got my life back by getting back in college, hanging with my friends and being around people who knew me before the accident and were willing to help and support my getting on with my life.

I didn’t really see myself sitting at home and not doing anything. I was doing my physical therapy and my course work in school. I didn’t see any other choice. I knew that going back to school was what I wanted to do and what I had to do to get on with my life.

I wanted to get a college degree, and I wanted to have a career. I became very focused after my accident and told myself, “Getting back into school and getting back into life is what you need to do, and what you have to do.”

Question: What kind of career did you want?

Monica getting ready to shine on stage.

Monica getting ready to shine on stage.

Quimby: I did research before and after my accident and had gotten my research published. I didn’t want to give-up my research. I also became a teaching assistant in biology and enjoyed that because I got to work with a lot of other people.

After I got my master’s degree, I was on a break from being an adjunct biology teacher at Southern Maine Community College. I had 6-weeks off from school, so I wanted to find something to do. I typed-in wheelchair activities, and I saw the information for Ms. Wheelchair America. I laughed and finally said to myself “Ok, I’m going to see what this is about.”

I found the competition for Ms. Wheelchair Maine was a part of the Ms. Wheelchair America competition and discovered that this contest was as much about your inner beauty as your outer beauty.

In the contest, I was 100% honest. My platform was providing higher education and teaching goal setting for people with disabilities. I entered the contest and won.

That win has given me a mission to try to encourage, inspire and promote more education and opportunities for people with some kind of disability.

Monica greets fans during a local parade.

Monica greets fans during a local parade.

Next: Monica Quimby Flies with Her Wheels Down

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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