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When Rosemary was born on September 13, 1966 at an American naval hospital in Pozzuoli, Italy, the doctor asked her parents, “What will you do with her?” Her parents looked at each other and thought he was crazy. The ignorant physician asked because she had brain damage, which resulted in cerebral palsy. Ironically, her brain was damaged because of his clumsiness; he bumped her head during delivery. He presumed that she would be a vegetable for the rest of her life.
Rosemary has proven that doctor dead wrong. For every limitation she has, she has been able to overcome it in one way or another. Even though she cannot walk, she dances in her wheelchair to music. Although she cannot talk, she uses a word board to communicate quite eloquently. Although she cannot use her hands to perform daily tasks, she uses a head pointer to type on a keyboard.
Despite all her challenges, Rosemary has been able to accomplish a great deal during her life so far. A year after graduating Cleveland States University Magma Cum Laude with a B.A. in Communications, she became a monthly columnist for Sun Newspapers in Cleveland, Ohio. Her column, Bit Of A Challenge, was the paper’s most popular column, running for ten years. She also had articles published in The Plain Dealer and Italian Gazette. In addition, she edited and published two monthly disability-related newsletters, The Able Informer and Ability Age. Issues still roam around the Internet. In her spare time, Rosemary reads, watches foreign movies, and writes poetry. In fact, one of her goals is to publish a book of her poetry by the end of the year.
Besides establishing herself as a writer and a poet, Rosemary has pursued her dream of traveling and setting new heights…literally. She has visited Italy (5 times so far), Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Holland, and Belgium. During one of her visits to Italy, she even met the Pope! She also has a daredevil spirit. Several years ago she did tandem hang gliding in Ridgley, Maryland, where she went up twice at 2500ft and 5000ft. A year afterwards, she took a ride on a customized motorcycle through eastern Metroparks and Chagrin Falls. She also rode a horse on a Colorado dude ranch and skied at Brandywine ski resorts. For her next adventures, Rosemary wants to paraglide and go in a hot air balloon. No wonder her motto is “If you don’t accept challenges, you are not living.”
In September 2001, Rosemary saw an ad by TecAccess, a Virginia-based technology company, in a disability newsletter. It needed web testers, so she applied for the position. During her ten years at TecAccess, she did everything from writing press releases and conducting business development correspondence to testing software and websites for accessibility standards. Rosemary even helped train disabled veterans. She was an accessibility analyst and a blogger for two other technology companies before holding her current position as Chief Accessibility Officer at Ruh Global Communications.
Rosemary is very adamant about the rights of non-verbal patients. She believes communication between medical professionals and non-verbal patients is vital to treatment and recovery. She has given presentations and written articles on the topic. One day she hopes to offer a training course on it.
When people say how inspiring Rosemary is, she shakes her head and rolls her eyes. Of course, she is humbled by and grateful for the compliment. Yet, she feels there’s nothing inspiring about living life to the fullest despite disabilities. Ironically, her parents and friends have been Rosemary’s inspirations. Without their love and support, she might have ended up where that doctor at the naval hospital insinuated to place her.