My name is Rosemary Musachio. I was born on Sept. 13, 1966, at an American naval hospital in Pozzuoli, Italy, and the doctor asked my parents, “What will you do with her?” My parents looked at each other and thought he was crazy. The ignorant physician asked because I had brain damage that resulted in cerebral palsy. Ironically, my brain was damaged because of his clumsiness; he bumped my head during delivery. He presumed that I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life.
I have proven that doctor dead wrong. For every limitation I have, I have been able to overcome it in one way or another. Even though I cannot walk, I dance to music in my wheelchair. Although I cannot talk, I use a word board to communicate quite eloquently. Although I cannot use my hands to perform daily tasks, I use a head pointer to type on a keyboard.
Despite all my challenges, I have been able to accomplish a great deal so far. A year after graduating from Cleveland State University magna cum laude with a B.A. in communications, I became a monthly columnist for Sun Newspapers in Cleveland, Ohio. My column, “Bit of a Challenge,” was the paper’s most popular column, running for 10 years. I also had articles published in The Plain Dealer and the Italian Gazette. In addition, I edited and published two monthly disability-related newsletters, The Able Informer and Ability Age. Issues still roam around the Internet. In my spare time, I write poetry. In fact, one of my goals is to become a published poet. I also write a blog called Challenges of Everyday.
Besides establishing myself as a writer and a poet, I have pursued my dream of traveling and setting new heights … literally. I have visited Italy (four times so far), Germany, Austria, France, and Spain. During one of my visits to Italy, I even met the Pope! I also have a daredevil spirit. Four years ago I did tandem hang-gliding in Ridgley, Maryland, where I went up twice at 2500 feet and 5000 feet. A year afterward I took a ride on a customized motorcycle through the eastern Metroparks and Chagrin Falls. For my next adventures, I want to paraglide and go up in a hot air balloon. No wonder my motto is “If you don’t accept challenges, you are not living.”
In September 2001, I saw an ad by TecAccess, a Virginia-based technology company, in a disability newsletter. The company needed web testers, so I applied for the position. During my 10 years at TecAccess, I did everything from writing press releases and conducting business development correspondence to testing software and web sites for accessibility standards. I even helped train disabled veterans. Earlier this year TecAccess formed a strategic partnership with SSB Bart Group, another technology company, where I am an accessibility analyst and blog writer.
When people tell me how inspiring I am, I shake my head and roll my eyes. Of course, I am humbled by and grateful for the compliment. Yet, I feel there’s nothing inspiring about living life to the fullest despite disabilities. Ironically, my parents and friends have been my inspirations. Without their love and support, I might have ended up where that doctor at the naval hospital insinuated I should have been put.
Note: Rosemary came to LEAP for benefits assistance and now assists with LEAP's advocacy efforts.