Drinking and driving is a common cause of spinal cord injuries, and this is what happened to Jen Addis, 40, who was paralyzed when her boyfriend/”designated driver” rolled the car they were in when he was two times over the legal blood-alchohol limit.
At 24, Addis, now a C5-6 quadriplegic, started her life over. “I lost the career I had as a teller supervisor/officer at a bank, which I loved and was highly successful at since my first day on the job. This was devastating for me as a young, independent woman,” she says, “to lose my livelihood and means of taking care of myself.”
Addis found her new purpose in 2001 when she became Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. “I had a voice again, a purpose and a newfound confidence.” After becoming Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, she began a speaking career, traveling to schools and conferences, speaking on an issue very dear to her heart — the consequences of drinking and driving.
And then came her latest project, “This Is How We Roll,” an all-inclusive fashion show she began last October. The show had 35 models and raised over $13,000 for the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation.
Addis has also brought outdoors accessibility awareness to Discover Wisconsin, a TV program shot near her home in Hancock. She produced and starred in “Something for Everyone — Accessible Wisconsin,” showcasing some of the most accessible destinations in the state.
As for her obvious people skills, she’s grateful for them. “God blessed me with this amazing ability to