Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chicago and Our Nation's Capital

In the last couple weeks my husband, Jacob, and I have been on two amazing trips. We've met so many wonderful people and seen some sights that we'll never forget. We are loving every minute of it.

July 8th through 12th, we were in Chicago for the Abilities Expo with our friends from LegaWear. It was a fantastic expo, with a really good turn out. I loved seeing the excitement in people when they realized they could get designer-quality clothes at a good value that actually fit! Regardless of a person's body type, disability or not, our custom-tailored suits, tuxedos and jeans are what so many of us have been searching for. We were also able to do several photo shoots, which were a blast. To check out the clothes and to see how to do your own measurements, you can create a profile at You can also check out the LegaWear Facebook page.

One of the evenings, David Lega and Andreas Stenderdahl (founders and owners of LegaWear), Jacob and I were able to catch a cab from Schaumberg, where the expo was being held, into the city. Chicago is beautiful. We walked around in our suits and the weather was perfect. I really enjoyed the detailed architecture on the buildings downtown and the pieces of history that were evident all around. Millennium park was very cool with the big mirrored skyline in Cloud Gate and fireflies dancing around. We got some great photos and spent some wonderful quality time.

We also got to spend some time with our Colours family. For those of you who know the Team, Ernie, Hydred, Domonic and Amber represented. As always, we played, worked hard, looked good and laughed a lot.

Last week, Jacob and I were fortunate enough to be asked to join the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in our nation's capital, again with LegaWear. The experience is one that we'll never forget. We were officially there for the NCIL National Conference and Expo, but were able to fit so much more into the trip. The expo was great and again, we saw a lot of interest in our clothing. I was moved by the monuments and all that represents the best of our country. The Air and Space and Natural History Museums at the Smithsonian were awesome and I look forward to returning and seeing more.

We were able to participate in a march to the capital to celebrate 20 years of the ADA, which was an amazing experience. At the NCIL Gala and AAPD Justice for All event, we heard a keynote speech by the Attorney General, as well as words from Ted and Patrick Kennedy, among many others. So many moments felt surreal. We were inspired by the stories of extraordinary accomplishments and pride in our country. I'm looking forward to building some wonderful relationships and looking back on the beginning of many friendships as a result from our week in D.C.

On top of these amazing experiences, David and Andreas have asked me to be the Director of National Sales for LegaWear. I am so honored for the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible company with such great potential. To have the chance to do all of this as a team with my husband makes it even more special. So, I'll be working on identifying some sales representatives around the country that are interested in selling our clothing. If you or someone you know is interested, please email me at

In less than two weeks, we are off to California. I can't wait to be back in Cali, to see my family and closest friends and to spend some time at Colours! I'll keep you posted and thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Get ready for a journey!

I started this blog with the sincere intention of writing much more regularly than I have. However, over the last few months, some exciting things have been happening that I think are important to share. In my initial posting, I had mentioned working as a spokesmodel for several companies. Well, since then, two of those relationships have become more formal. I am now one of two Southeast Regional Coordinator for Colours Wheelchair, as well as a member of Team Colours. That company is unlike any other. They make the best chairs I've ever ridden in - custom made for every user - and boast a company motto of "Life is all about the choices we make." It's a perfect fit for me and I'm proud to a part of the Colours family!

I've also taken a more formal role with LegaWear. In May, I joined the company as one of four US Sales Representatives and Spokespersons. I've also been doing some modeling for them and they're using my images on their website, their trade-show banner, and on internal and external literature. They make custom-tailored clothing, including suits, tuxedos and jeans, at affordable prices, with a fantastic online purchasing experience. They are unique clothes for unique people. As with Colours, LegaWear is offering a service that is much needed and aiming to serve an audience that is under-served at best. The co-founders and owners are wonderful people that I'm also so proud to be affiliated with. Check David Lega's story by clicking his name. I guarantee you'll be inspired.

In these new roles, my husband Jacob and I will be traveling more with these companies in the coming months. Traveling with a wheelchair is in itself an exciting experience, so I'd love to bring my readers along on my upcoming journeys. Plus, it would be fun to give you a glance into a day in the life of a Colours/LegaWear girl. So here's the schedule of events for the next couple months:

Abilities Expo in Chicago - July 8-12
Trip to California, working with Colours & visiting family - August 6-15
Abilities Expo in Houston - August 26-30

I'll keep you updated on those adventures and post more as I know of it.

I'm still the General Manager of Brenau University's radio station, 89.1 WBCX. The station is doing awesome, adding new shows all the time. We're building a great line-up, comprised of a variety of music shows and wonderful talk shows - including health shows, interview and other interesting educational programs. If you want to hear me, you can catch the Ocean Breeze - playing a mix of traditional and modern beach music and reggae, and also on the Positive Perspective - a new show I co-host with two other ladies, providing good news and inspirational stories. You don't want to miss out on all we're doing there. Click here to listen to the live stream, anytime, anywhere.

I'm still totally loving the alternative health care I've been learning about. My team of health practitioners inspire me to be healthier all the time and I love them. I workout twice a week with my personal trainer, see my naturopath about once a month and get acupuncture twice a month. It has been great. It feels right because the roots of these health approaches are connected with the natural around us, which we have seem to become disconnected from in today's society. Even more recently I've started learning a little bit about aromatherapy and it is just fascinating. I am still struggling with muscle spasms in my legs (below my spinal cord injury) but am on not a single pharmaceutical drug for them, which is pretty rare for someone who has been injured as long as I have (26 years). So, I look forward to sharing information about that as well and inspiring others to take action to feel better.

My recent graduation with my Master's of Science in Organizational Leadership was so, very rewarding. I'm looking forward to where this journey takes me and I'm pleased you're interested in coming along! Talk soon...

P.S. If you're interested in finding out more about a LegaWear suit or custom clothing - email me at

Let's hook up on Twitter:
LegaWear - @legawear
Colours - @colourswc
WBCX - @891wbcx
Personal - @kristinarhoades

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Spring Break in New Orleans

Last year, a group of students, staff and faculty from Brenau University (as well as my wonderful Mom and husband) made our way down to New Orleans to spend our spring break rebuilding homes. As it quickly climbed the ladder to become one of the most memorable life experiences for many of us, we decided to return this year. This time with a group of 17, we are working with Habitat for Humanity in Harvey, Louisiana.

By far, one of the coolest parts about this year's trip is reconnecting with the homeowner whose home we worked on last year with St. Bernard Project. We were the first work group in her home, tasked with scrubbing and killing mold and sealing any and every piece of wood to prevent any mold in the future. The homeowner, Lisa, is a single Mom and grandmother and a police officer in St. Bernard Parish. She had been out of her home for nearly four years, but after the help if this wonderful organization, she was able to move back in about six months ago.

Last night we went to see her house. Seven of us had worked on the home last year and were completely astonished at how beautiful it was. Although we spent a full week working in it, the house was hardly recognizable on the inside. Even better was the smile on Lisa's face. The positive attitude, appreciation and sense of humor reminded me why we fell in love with her last year.

This year, working with Habitat, it is a different, but good experience. While we don't have contact with the homeowner and don't see the original home, we are seeing a different area and learning new skills. I can't believe how fast they are able to build a home. I also love that even with the very specific projects that we are working on, the site coordinators have managed to come up with all sorts of jobs that are perfect for two girls in wheelchairs.

My favorite part about this city is the rich culture and the hope possessed by the people here. So many of them have every right to be angry, and while some may be, so many others choose to project the hope that they have and the gratitude they feel toward those coming to help rebuild, even when the help is coming so long after it was needed.

On my way here, I got a tweet from a good friend of mine. She said that "the heart grows when you serve others." I don't know if anything else rings more true. Because of these experiences, I know that I will always seek out a way to help others in need, and especially my fellow Americans. This week, several people commented at how wonderful they think it is that people in wheelchairs are down here rebuilding homes. Hopefully, this notion inspires others to give what they can of their time and abilities to help this world become a better place. Maybe this little post will help as well.

Habitat for Humanity

St. Bernard Project

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Introduction to Kristina Rhoades

My name is Kristina and I am 26 years old. I have an amazing, busy life that is filled with things to write about, but an important detail that you may want to know up front: I am a T-5 paraplegic with a complete spinal cord injury (SCI) and I use a manual wheelchair to get around. I got hurt (SCI speak for how the injury happened) when I was 10 months old. In other words, I’m a veteran at this and very comfortable in my skin and with the life I live.

I have wanted to start a blog for a long, long time. As I said, my life is filled with events and observations that I want to share. Rather than trying to share my whole life story for background relevance, I’ll just start with what’s happening now and fill in details and history as needed. Here we go.

In 2005 I held the title of Ms. Wheelchair California. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Since then, I have been working for various companies as a spokesmodel. I also really enjoy telling people about the wonderful products and devices I use that make my life better. The companies include Colours Wheelchair, Bruno Independent Living Aids, and LegaWear. I have also modeled in a fashion show for Chloe Magazine. I love every second of it and hope to do much, much more.

Currently, I work as the General Manager of Brenau University’s radio station, 89.1 WBCX. I host a show on Monday afternoons called the Ocean Breeze. I love being on the radio, doing interviews and allowing the students and wonderful community volunteers to be creative with their shows and the content we offer. I am also in the process of completing my MS in Organizational Leadership from Brenau. I graduate in May.

One of the topics that will come up a lot here is natural health - including mind, body and spirit. Recently, I began seeing a Naturopath and working out with a personal trainer. I can’t recall the last time I was this healthy. After all these years of being in a wheelchair and struggling with the various health problems that are often attached to a spinal cord injury, it is such a liberating feeling to finally have a doctor that is interested in the causes of the problems I encounter, versus simply trying to cover up the symptoms.

Working out with my personal trainer is also making a huge impact on my quality of life. Not only do I feel great because of how in shape I am, but I am engaging muscles and stretching in ways I didn’t know I could. We are currently tackling other challenges that I face, such as muscle spasms in my legs. These natural approaches coupled with a positive attitude, could prevent me from having dangerous procedures and surgeries and being on so many prescription medications. My hope is that more people in my position can begin to live this way and feel better with me.

Recently, my sweet husband, Jacob, and I have decided that a baby is in our future. While I am physically able to have a baby, doctors have informed me that pregnancy is often a different experience for each woman with a spinal cord injury. My doctor and I have planned, when the time comes, to attempt a natural labor and have a c-section scheduled, should it be necessary. I am currently exploring the possibility of a documentary. Because there is such a small population of women with spinal cord injuries, I feel like it would be beneficial to share my journey. It could also offer awareness for people that are just simply curious.

So, these are some of the high points of what’s now in my life. I look forward to sharing my experiences on the topics I’ve touched on and others. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!