I met my now husband Rudy Izzie at a coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles. Both of us were well-known influencers in the entertainment industry, and we had been following each other's work for quite some time. 

We ordered and settled down at the table, engaging in genuine conversation about our respective careers and passions. As we delve deeper into our conversation, we realized that we share similar creative visions. We both believe in using our platforms to spread positivity, inspire others, and shine a light on social issues through our art.

I suggested  we could collaborate on something incredible. Our energies align so well, and I think our styles could complement each other perfectly. He agreed with a head nod and smile and admission that he had similar thoughts in mind. We exchanged contact information, eager to put our creative ideas into action. 

Little did we know that our meeting would mark the beginning of a powerful partnership, one that would redefine the entertainment industry and leave a lasting impact on their audiences. Together, we became a force to be reckoned with, combining our talents to create art that leaves hearts touched and minds opened. 

We were always dreaming of starting a family together. When we had been married for a few years we felt ready to take on the wonderful adventure of parenthood. Little did we know, our journey would take an unexpected turn when they found out they were expecting not just one, but two babies. 

We were ecstatic when they learned they were having twins. We couldn't believe our luck and immediately started preparing for the arrival of their little ones. We spent countless hours researching and reading books on multiples, attending parenting classes, and setting up the nursery to accommodate two babies. 

As the pregnancy progressed, we began to realize that having twins would be more challenging than they initially anticipated. From increased doctor's appointments to the physical discomfort I experienced, we were faced with a whole new level of intensity. Despite the challenges, our excitement and love for their unborn twins remained unshakeable. 

At 32 weeks, I went into premature labor. Panic set in as we rushed to the hospital, fearing that our babies might come into the world too early. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but the medical team managed to stabilize me and keep their babies safe. 

After a few weeks on bed rest and constant monitoring, it was time for us to meet their little ones. The twins, a boy and a girl, were born prematurely but healthy. The moment we laid eyes on their precious babies, we knew their lives had forever changed for the better. 

The first few months were a blur of sleepless nights, endless feedings, and diaper changes. The twins seemed to have synchronized their cries, making it even more challenging for us to attend to both babies' needs simultaneously. However, we were determined to give their children the love and care they deserved. 

As the twins grew older, we learned to adapt to the unique demands of raising two infants at once. We created a schedule, established a nighttime routine, and leaned on each other and our support network for assistance. The exhaustion and daily challenges were overwhelming at times, but our love for our children pushed us to keep going. 

Sounds like what all parents of twins must deal with, right? Flashback! At 23 years old, I was in a wheelchair due to a C5-C6 injury. 

When I woke up from the fall in a public bathroom that broke my neck, I was in the ICU after surgery, I had a breathing tube. Not being able to move, not being able to talk to my family, that was traumatic. You don’t understand what’s happening to your body, and your body is such a big part of your identity.

Losing my mobility fractured my sense of self. I’d gone to boarding school as a teenager and frequently traveled to Italy to visit my mother’s family. While most of my classmates chose colleges in the United States, I opted to study at John Cabot University in Rome.

Before my injury, I was very adventurous. I was used to a lot of freedom and movement and traveling and independence. Suddenly, that disappeared. I moved home with my parents, but the space wasn’t designed to accommodate a wheelchair user. Stairs everywhere, including the full bathroom, prevented me from being able to move through the house independently.

I slept on a hospital bed in the living room. I just felt trapped in there. The emotional toll was worse than not being able to move.

After a year marked by severe depression, I realized something had to change. I had to get out. I had to challenge myself. I had to practice independence. So, what I did was make a huge, drastic choice. I packed a suitcase and moved to California.

This seismic decision felt like a return to my old self. I began an activity-based therapy program in San Diego, where I met people with spinal cord injuries from around the world. Finding that community was transformative. 

These were people all going through the same thing together. Having that support was really helpful to me, especially from the women I met. We’d go out together to bars as a group of wheelchair users, and it felt really empowering. We had each other, and we weren’t alone. 

I learned to reckon with the logistics of my injury, from traveling by paratransit to cooking for myself to adapting to having caregivers. 

I wasn’t used to having someone up in my business and taking care of me. I had to learn to look at it as the key to my independence – rather than dependence.

After another year, I intentionally uprooted my life again, moving five hours north for graduate school at California Polytechnic State University. With a full scholarship from Swim with Mike, a non-profit that helps physically challenged athletes to pursue advanced education, I studied English and disability studies. 

The deep dive into the history of the disability movement, along with the confidence I’d gained in San Diego as part of a tight-knit community of wheelchair users, helped mr push my recovery forward. I learned to comfortably navigate life as one of the few students with a visible disability, became an advocate on the local disability commission, and even began to date again. 

I remember I was flirting, and I was like, “Oh, I’m flirting— and people are receptive!’ So that was a good sign. 

By 2016, I had graduated and returned to San Diego to work as Social Media Manager for Spinergy, a company whose products include wheelchair wheels. During a visit home to see her family, I met my future husband, Rudy. We dated long distance for 10 months until  I “took another plunge” and moved back east.  Four months later, we got engaged in Rome.  

I was fueled by my determination to not let fear hold me back. But after Rudy and I were married, I faced one of her hardest questions: whether to try to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I could take care of a child. I had a lot of fears. 

But, thinking of all I’d already faced, I wouldn’t let myself rule it out. After meeting with a high-risk doctor whose practice had delivered babies for a dozen women living with limited mobility, I reassessed what was possible. It gave me hope. 

Sometimes, the hope of becoming a mother allowed me to put my own pain into perspective and move beyond my immediate trauma to picture a future dedicated to something bigger than me.

My biggest day to day struggle used to be simply getting around places.  Now that I have power-assist wheels, I do not struggle with this aspect of dependence anymore.  

I had been granted $2800 from the Travis Roy Foundation for power-assisted manual wheels to allow me independence in my chair.  I am delighted not to have to rely on people to push my wheelchair 24/7.  Ironically, I knew about Travis Roy because he talked at her high school.  Six years later I recalled Travis’ inspiration and called upon his influential work to receive a grant.  I am SO grateful! 

I am not sure if this was my life’s plan… I sure didn’t feel that way after my accident. Yet… here I am with a Wonderful Husband and children who loves me as I am and so much more. 

Yes… I AM SO GRATEFUL for how my life is Now.

You can find out more about Dani Izzie by going to her Website or following / connecting with her on FacebookTwitter Instagram or follow her journey on her YouTube channel 

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