I was born on May 1st, 1947. I lived a full and healthy life for many years. Playing the piano and organ for many, many years, my early life was filled with music. I graduated from college, earning a degree in English. I later owned my own business in the field of medical transcription. I was married for 18 years and have one child, Amanda.
Then, when I was 41 years old, I was diagnosed with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. My life changed rather quickly. Soon, I was no longer able to transcribe and found myself on Social Security disability. Over the past 15 years, my disease has progressed until I am now a total quadriplegic.
I have a friend and fellow church member, Liz Campbell, who is a wonderful artist. One day, I just mentioned to her that I thought it might be fun to paint with my mouth. I promptly forgot about what I said, but she didn't. She went to the people of my church and told them about it. They donated money to buy supplies and also an easel and a table for me to use. I was overwhelmed with their generosity and also almost felt an obligation to succeed. God was molding my life in a new direction.
I began trying to manipulate pastel pencils with my mouth. It was more difficult than I had thought. First, I tried to draw a straight line -- -- instead, it was a very crooked line. I then proceeded to circles, boxes, triangles, etc.
Finally I began drawing pictures that looked like a young child had drawn them. I faithfully practiced every day with the help of my mother who loaded my mouthpieces with my pencils and sharpened my pencils. I did find that with daily practice, I was improving slowly.
After about a year, God intervened again. Liz mentioned me to her dentist. He happened to have a calendar by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. He told her to ask me to contact these people. I contacted them, and through a process of submitting pictures I had drawn, medical forms and more of my pictures and then undergoing an interview, I was accepted as a student with the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 1996. This has made an amazing difference in the life of someone who is unable to do things for herself. I feel creative again, useful and take great pride in my work. After years of hard work, it is possible to advance to a full member in the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. At that level, a person is able to totally support themselves, even with all the added costs of a disability. I have not yet reached that point. Even so, I now feel UNIQUELY-abled instead of disabled. Thanks to this wonderful organization, thousands have been helped to lead a productive life through the years. I hope that by doing my part to publicize the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, I can help them to help another ...and another...and another ...and another ...