BethAnne Dehler serves as the Administrative Assistant with US2, Inc. BethAnne has been an entrepreneur most of her life and recently served as a Procurement/Project Coordinator for a nonprofit organization in Tucson, AZ. BethAnne holds certificates in human resources, business management, and procurement. She is a proud mother of two children and four grandchildren (AKA “OMA”). Her daughter, Katarina, 29, husband Dan, and three grandchildren, Julien, 11, Giavana 8, Rebecca 5 months, live in Colorado. Her son Darrion, 25, and wife Alexandra, 23, and Baby J due any day live in Wisconsin. BethAnne (engaged) resides in Tucson, AZ with her Finance and Dad, Larry, 86.
The message alone in US2 “understanding yourself can ultimately unite society” aligns with my passion & drive for life. US2 reminded me of my critical outside lens & personal internal lens for ableism. In high school, I would stand at the door of the “Special Ed” classroom (that name infuriated me) at passing period & walk the students (my friends) down the hallway so they would not be picked on. Over the year, I was well educated about their different abilities. My friends shared stories that not only touched my heart but made me grow as a young woman and appreciate all humans. It was, and still is, a very touching & empowering experience. Little did I know that just a few years later I would be encountering my own personal experience with ableism.
At the age of 20, I was injured. This injury not only impacted my abilities to walk, sit, stand, and dance – it took a part of my young womanhood from me. I no longer was “that girl”. Gymnastics, softball, and LOVE were things of the past – all my little girl dreams GONE!!! I was told not to have children. I took my chances and was blessed at the age of 21 with my first-born – my daughter, Katarina. She was three-months old when my legs collapsed beneath me one day. I spent the weekend partially paralyzed in my parents’ bed. Here I was, a new mom, age 21 and, for a moment, I feared I would never jump rope with my daughter. Who would love a woman with such extreme physical complications at my age? The doctor said, “If you don’t do the surgery, you will be “permanently paralyzed.” No matter how many times I said those words, they weren’t any easier to digest. I was against surgery but was facing a tough decision because my decision no longer affected me as an individual – I had a newborn child to take care of. Unfortunately, the surgery created further complications. Within one year, I no longer could feel the bottom of my right foot. My gate was becoming worse by the day. I no longer could wear high heels. Before this, I loved high heels – I was young and loved dressing up for special events. Against medical advice, I was blessed with my second child, Darrion.
To this day, I am told that I am on borrowed time not using a wheelchair. My children have witnessed the most debilitating times of my life and I will continue to fight for them and for myself. I am sure it was, and probably still is, scary for them – I know it continues to be for me. I fight daily to keep my back and lower limbs mobile. Some days I appear “normal” per society, and some days my disability rears its ugly head. I have experienced the looks, the stares, the whisper in the ear as a child asks their mother “what’s wrong with her?” I have progressive degenerative disc disease and severe nerve damage. My recent MRI one year ago tells my story, but it doesn’t define me. My spine has become so weak that it has formed its own C shape in my upper back (like scoliosis) creating more disc & nerve damage, not to mention the pain. I undergo outpatient procedures and I am notorious for not taking medication, preferring natural remedies. I was born very able-bodied, and within the first twenty years of my life, I was no longer able-bodied. I am diagnosed as 55% disabled. That number is HUGE to me. It has created self-doubt. What started with only impacting my right side has now managed its’ way to my left side.
Imagine your lower limbs and dominant arm/hand not working – this is my reality. I work out daily to the best of my abilities to keep my body strong because, if I don’t, that wheelchair only gets a little closer. US2 brings forth the opportunities to engage in recognizing & speaking about our biases, identities, and privileged and oppressed groups without feeling different, wronged, uneducated, alone, or ashamed. US2 allows for positive interaction and educates society to understand self. Biases are all around us and in us…