Central PA SCI Networking

Shelly White C5

Featured Stories
Our Purpose
Contact Us
The Network
Join the Network
Calendar of Events
Sexuality, Pregnancy, and Parenting

My Story



  It was the week after school started and the holiday weekend was here. Unfortunately, I didn’t get back.  Sept. 2, 2001, I was injured in a powered parachute accident.  During take off, an unexpected gust of wind caused the aircraft to crash into the field, giving me a C5 spinal cord injury.  Most people remember that September for the terrorist attacks.  I was unaware of such happenings until later, since my focus was recovering from pneumonia and trying to get off a ventilator.   After 85 days in the Hershey Medical Center, I left for home. 


You are never prepared for the emotional roller coaster that follows.  The best thing for me was to re-engage into things I did before I was hurt.  Just writing my name was a big hurdle to get over, let alone weight shifts, therapy, and battling the mental blocks.  I started tutoring at my house, took an online grad course and got myself out of the house as much as possible. 


     Every day, month, year, my strength increased whether I paid attention or not. 


 I learned to lean on family and friends to help me step back into life.  Some days I begged to get out, while other days they pulled me out.  Every day, month, year, my strength increased whether I paid attention or not.  Goal setting drives me.  I dream big and do what I can to get there.  Frequently, I make myself celebrate the things I am able to do.  Daily, I give thanks for what I have.  Before I go to sleep, I replay my high points.  I’m limited in how I can give to others, but I finally realized how to make that happen without lifting a finger. 

“Tough times never last, tough people do.”

Robert Schuller


One of the hardest challenges for me was to write about my life changing event.  I think writing is a great form of therapy.  It has a definite connection with the healing process.  I never thought of writing as a form of therapy, but upon its conclusion I realized the impact it had on me.  I would definitely encourage others to find a way to communicate their life changing events or daily challenges, thoughts, etc., as a way of recovering. 



My life is basically back to “normal”.  I just do things differently, and for the majority of the time I am ok with that.  On the days I’m not, I have a choice.  I can try to work it out, engage in life or I can disengage and watch life pass me by.  Unfortunately, I do have bad days, who doesn’t, but, they do not define me.

Currently, I am teaching part-time at Ebenezer Elementary school.  I wrote a children’s book, bought a house, became an aunt, fell in love…disability does not slow me down. Since December 2005, my life has been a whirlwind of opportunity. 


You can check out my website to see some of the neat things that have happened!  www.spineyadventures.com  or www.michellemariewhite.com





To order a copy of Shelly's book, New Opportunities, email Shelly directly, order through www.michellemariewhite.com , or order through www.amazon.com.
What is the book about?

During take off, the powered parachute was thrown off by a sudden gust of wind, causing the craft to come down. Shelly broke her neck at the C-5 level, resulting in a spinal cord injury.  Returning to work as a teacher, she needed a way to explain her injury to her students and fellow teachers.

As a result, Spiney, the lead character in her book "New Opportunities" was born. "New Opportunities" is a true account of Shelly's real-life confrontation with disability. Spiney is a porcupine that experiences an accident resulting in spinal cord injury. Through Spiney, Shelly teaches the reader three important lessons – that having a disability does not have to hold you back, that when you get “stuck” you must keep looking for ways to overcome, and that it is cool to do things differently from others.



Shelly realized that both children and adults needed to be educated about spinal cord injury and overcoming obstacles. The story has provided her with a teaching resource to use with people of all age levels. For younger audiences, it teaches that it is cool to be different. For older children and adults, it is a story of inspiration and pursuing dreams.



 Shelly presents her story to schools, church groups, girl scout groups, etc.  Contact her if you are interested in having her talk to your group.


Email Shelly!

Remarks from Family and Friends

Aunt Rain

Sue Devert

Aaron Perez

Sarah W

Bev Gamble

Belinda Fratini

Faren Fratini

Cindy Klahr

Nikki Hockley