Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Meet Angela Irick- Author of Ashley Wins the First Day of School

The other day my 1st grader came home and told us that they had a guest speaker at her school. Little Miss Wheelchair of Texas 2013, Kirsten Passmore, came to visit and speak about her life with Cerebral Palsy and how she is just like every other kid. My daughter had such a fun time listening to her and I could tell because she told me everything that this little girl had to say.

After my daughter told me about her visit, I was reminded of a Facebook friend of mine, Angela Irick. For those that may not have read my blog much or may not know me, I only write about what/who inspires me and what/who I believe in. I would like to tell you the story of Angela Irick, a 32 year old woman that was diagnosed with a C-1 C-2 incomplete spinal cord injury at the age of 14 years old. I asked Angela a variety of serious and fun questions so that you can know more about her; you will definitely want to read this because Angela, also known as Ang, is a very interesting, fun, down to Earth, smart as a whip kind of lady!

I will warn you, this blog piece is long, I tried to edit some of the answers that Angela gave me but her answers were so awesome, valuable, and meaningful that I had a really hard time doing this. Please put some time to the side and read this in its entirely and share with your friends because honestly you never know who this piece will touch. Thanks.



What were you like as a kid: "I was really shy when first meeting people and always observed people around me. Once I became comfortable I was very stubborn and ornery. In addition, I was a major tomboy and loved playing basketball, riding bikes, playing in ditches, looking for crawdads, cheerleading and looking for the next adventure. As a result of my active lifestyle, I was very accident prone; so accident prone that my family and I joked that if something 'weird' happened that it would happen to me."


When and how did you become disabled: "On March 7, 1996, at the age of 14, I was in a car accident that resulted in a collapsed lung and I broke my neck injuring my C-1 and C-2 vertebrae; those are the first vertebrae's in your spine and your brain stem is above your C-1 vertebrae. I was very lucky because breaking these two vertebrae's paralyzes you from the neck down. In addition, I could not breathe on my own and was on a ventilator for 8-9 months."

20 minutes before my accident (Angela on the right)

Did you ever want to 'give up': "I had days where I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. It's not that I didn't want to live, it's that I did not want to live as a quadriplegic. I always tell people the first 5 years are the hardest. I just wanted to wake up and 'poof' the dream be over. It's like mourning the person I thought I would be; for example at the age of 32 I thought I would be married and starting a family by now. Different stages of my life will bring the pro's and con's, it's something that I have to adjust to."

What made you not give up: My faith in God, we've had a lot of one on one talks, my immediate family, we are not the perfect family but we love each other and that has taught me not to give up, and friends who constantly encourage me to pursue a dream or goal; such as run for Ms Wheelchair Texas and learn to paint.  In addition, my mom has always been a huge source of strength for me and I have put her through the 'ringer'; I would have major meltdowns and take it out on her. It has been 18 years since my accident and she truly put her life on hold so that I could have one and she never gave up on me."


What do you want people to learn from you: "I really want people to learn that my disability does not define who I am. The only limitations I have are the ones I put on myself. Of course I am going to need help doing this but that is what life is all about, setting goals and never being ashamed to ask for help."

Sometimes people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when they approach or are around someone in a wheelchair; what suggestions can you give people to make them not feel uncomfortable: "I totally use sarcasm to turn an awkward situation into a more relaxing situation. I've learned that when you are comfortable with yourself that others are comfortable with you. I actually get really embarrassed when meeting someone for the first time because they always try to shake my hand. I can tell by the look on their face that they are embarrassed which in turn makes me feel bad; so before this can happen I try and introduce myself and give them a polite nod of my head. Some people who are disabled are in different stages of their lives and may react differently but I can tell you that the biggest pet peeve is being stared at, patted on the head and hearing outlandish comments such as, 'but you're so beautiful to be in a wheelchair.' Disabilities don't discriminate." 

What are some things in your life you have done that would make some people say was not possible: "Breathe on my own, eat without having to use a feeding tube, hiccup, talk, sneeze, have sensation and movement below my level of injury; kicking my legs and moving my fingers. In addition, go on a hot air balloon ride, participate in a fashion show, TV and magazine interviews, public speaking, reading my book to elementary students, painting and scuba diving."


Lastly,what are your successes in life: "I started my own fashion line called Heels With Wheels. We are currently on the search for a co designer and are taking resumes. I published two books, 'Sampson to the Rescue' and 'Ashley's First Day of School' and am currently working on the third book. I became a Ms Wheelchair of Texas Ambassador, advocating for people who have a disability. Currently I am in the process of starting a non profit organization. 


I've been a Myspace/ Facebook friend (yes, Myspace- google if you don't remember what that was) of Angela's for at least 6 years and have enjoyed watching and learning of her successes in her life. She has amazed me not only because she is so talented and determined but because she is genuinely nice and caring. It is funny because I actually got to meet her once at an event that we both have grown to love, Hope 4 Tiny Hearts, and I froze up. I felt like I needed a keyboard and computer screen in front of me to talk to her but that feeling did not last because she broke the ice and broke into some gossip. 

After my daughter got home from school and told me about their special guest I immediately ordered Angela Irick's book 'Ashley's First Day of School', so that I could donate it to my daughter's first grade class. I think that it is important for kids, and adults, to understand that just because someone talks different, looks different, or has a disability does not mean that they don't have a million other similarities and common interests as the people around them. In addition, I plan on writing a short review of this book in the coming week, so I hope you take the time to read it and consider purchasing the book for your family or for your child's school/ daycare. 

I huge thank you to Angela Irick author of 'Ashley's First Day of School' for taking the time to let us get to know her. Feel free to follow Angela's journey on Twitter https://twitter.com/AngelaIrick or on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AngOnARoll . 

Written by: Aimee Fauci

61 comments:

  1. What an inspiration!! I enjoyed getting to know you, Angela! :)

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  2. Truly inspirational. What an awesome interview. I'm glad you didn't cut more of it out!

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    1. I tried to keep it short and sweet but the writer part of me came out and Aimee did a great job shaping it up. Thanks for your comment :-)

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  3. I did not know this about you. You truly inspire other people!

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    1. We're all full of surprises – Thanks for reading and responding!

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  4. What a beautiful story. Yes it's tragic but I love how she reaches out to the community sharing so much of herself. I look forward to reading her book.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie! Reaching out to the community and teaching the public about defying the odds is something I look forward to doing every day. Especially, the kiddos! Be sure to read the review by Aimee and you could get a autographed copy!

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  5. I love inspirational stories like these. People that have been dealt a rough hand but still manage to accomplish more than the average person are amazing!

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    1. That's just what I was thinking, Kecia!! Thank you for sharing, Angela

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    2. Thank you both! Proving people wrong is something I live for and sharing my story to help educate others!

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  6. Wow, what an inspiring lady! I love stories like this - where people fight to be "normal" and go against the odds.

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    1. Defying the odds probably is the best way to describe me – hands down – no pun intended :-)

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  7. This was truly an inspirational piece, and it nearly brought me to tears. It's people like Angela that remind me how strong the human spirit is.

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    1. Desiree, what a beautiful comment. Thank you so much!

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  8. I have total respect for the creative ways things can be done to compensate for disabilities. My dad had a disability so I have always had a particular sensitivity to it anyhow. Angela is awesome!

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    1. Not only do I have respect for the creative ways to help people with disabilities reach their goals but I think God for my computer software, DragonDictate! I don't know where I would be without it. It helped me so much right after my accident with writing and connecting with others online who had a spinal cord injury as well. That was back in 96 when AOL group chats were "in" lol. technology has come a long way! Thank you for sharing :-)

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  9. This sounds like a great book and the story is beyond inspirational. It's amazing how she overcame her obstacles and just shows through faith all things are possible.

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    1. Thank you so much and yes, through faith all things are possible.

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  10. What a list of accomplishments. I can't believe she was on a ventilator for 8 months and is still here to tell the tale! Amazing!

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    1. Thanks for the response. Getting off the ventilator was probably the hardest and proudest accomplishment that I have had to go through!!! It definitely made me a stronger person – and all those that got through it with me ;-)

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  11. What an inspirational story! I love that she didn't give up, and kept her faith!

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  12. How inspiring! I love that she's done so much that others said wouldn't be possible.

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    1. That's just a little list of things, Aimee had to edit to keep the blog from being too long :-) . I love when people tell me I can't do something – instant challenge!

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  13. This is a very inspiring post. My BIL was in a tree at 18 yrs old. He's 6ft. 6 and the tree wasn't very high. He fell out and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Some days are harder than others, but mostly he's a wonderful inspiration to everyone around him too. Doesn't stop me from wishing I could blink my eyes and make him better, but he's enriched everyone's lives around him in more ways than I could count.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. We all have our days (disabled or not) but it's what we do with time that defines who we are… Not the limitations or expectations of others. I'm glad you have someone in your life who enriches it. Good to hear your BIL doesn't let his disability define him!

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  14. Such an amazing story about a amazing person. I will for sure be reading her book.

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    1. Thank you. Keep your eye out for Aimee's book review – she will share how to purchase an autographed book :-)

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  15. This is such an inspiring interview. I really enjoyed reading her story!

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    1. Thank you! Stay tuned for the book review!

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  16. OMG, i can't believe she has a picture of herself 20 minutes before her accident. I'm not sure I could ever look at that picture again if that was me.

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    1. Debra, we were all shocked when we found the picture in a roll of film we hadn't had developed just yet (keep in mind this was 1996, no digital cameras or smart phones). I actually liked looking at pictures of myself before my accident rather than pictures of myself after my accident. Looking in the mirror was pretty hard to do too – it was an acceptance type of thing – I was holding on to that image of me in that pic. I knew I was no longer "that girl".

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  17. Wow, very inspiring interview with your friend. I'm in awe of her and am going to check out her new clothing line.

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    1. Thank you! My clothing line is still up and running but we are looking for a codesigner. If you know anyone fresh out of school or anyone that would be interested, send them my way.

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  18. Great story! Thanks for sharing...and yes, I unfortunately remember Myspace! Ha!

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    1. Thanks! MySpace, funny how much social media has changed. I wonder Facebook will be the next "MySpace" lol.

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  19. A truly inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  20. What a wonderful story to share. Loved reading this. Inspirational stories are always my favorite!

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    1. Thank you so much. I love these comments makes me feel like I'm doing my job.

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  21. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational life story! I love to hear about schools getting speakers who children are really interested in.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. When Aimee told me Little Miss Wheelchair Texas was at her daughter's school, I knew immediately who she was talking about and what a great experience she had. Anytime I am asked to go to a school to speak or read, I drop everything – they are so innocent and impressionable – funniest questions too. lol.

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  22. What a great interview! It's so cool to read interviews with authors and get a peek at what they're like :)

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    1. Thank you, glad you liked the little peek you got. :-)

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  23. What a great interview! I love how positive and motivated Angela is. I wish I could have some of the people in my life speak to her. They would feel like they could accomplish anything.

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    1. awe, that's sweet. Not sure if I could pull it off but they can always follow me on Facebook & Twitter :-)

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  24. This was such a great inspirational interview! Thanks for letting us get to know Angela on a more personal level!
    -Janel C.

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  25. What a great interview! She sounds very accomplished and should be very proud of herself. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm totally feeling proud after reading all these comments!!

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  26. What an amazing interview. She has done so much! I love that you really gave us a look into her life!

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    1. Thank you. Aimee did a great job on bringing me to life in her blog. :-)

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  27. What an inspirational interview. Really enjoyed reading this.

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  28. I love what a go getter she is - and the fashion line - brilliant! Such an inspirational piece and thank you for sharing the story.

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    1. Thank you for the post and the kind words – means a lot.

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  29. How scary that must have been for her & her family being on a ventilator for so long- I'm sure they wondered if she'd ever breathe on her own again. She's such an inspiration!

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    1. Been on a ventilator was definitely scary and being weaned off was even more scary. One of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life! I will have to admit, I never gave up, my mom wouldn't let me. She reminded me that I needed to draw strength from my faith and she took me from Dr. to Dr. until she found someone who is willing to work with me. I don't think he'll ever work with pediatrics again lol. but he got the job done along with an amazing respiratory therapist. NEVER GIVE UP. :-)

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