I learned very soon after my husband suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) that this condition was highly underrepresented. I knew I wanted to help give SCI a voice in order to bring awareness to the condition. But making the leap into an advocacy role felt impossible at first. Although many great nonprofit organizations in this country are raising funds to support a cure, I found very few that had been formed to help with care and awareness.

Once my partner Lauri Erickson and I made the decision to launch and run the Disability To Mobility Foundation (D2M), we found that the pieces easily fell into place. It is true, there is a time for everything in this life, and it was clearly the time for this foundation.

Still in its infancy, D2M has grown by leaps and bounds. The Foundation obtained its 501(c)(3) status quickly, and recently awarded a specialized therapy scholarship made possible by fund raising events and private donations. I personally have spent countless hours researching SCI, learning the science of the condition, meeting many who have been afflicted, and listening to loved ones touched by it. I feel my ability to relate to those affected, and my ease in the art of communication, has been valuable beyond words.

SCI is a very specific and individualized condition that affects everyone differently—physically and mentally. I believe my most beneficial role in bringing awareness and assistance to this condition is to always remain humane and never lose sight of improving quality of life, which can mean many different things to those who have been touched by spinal cord injuries. I am excited to carry on in this journey and to continue making a positive impact.

On Facing Challenges
Through a set of circumstances, I was thrust into the health care field in 2008. I quickly stepped up to the challenge and became educated in every aspect of care regarding spinal cord injury. It changed my career path and began my new journey as a nonprofit leader, caregiver, and, in the near future, register nurse.

My biggest challenge was my fear that I might do more harm than good. In my new role, I had the awesome responsibility of keeping another adult human being, who counted on me for everything, alive. When I thought about it and applied logic to it, I was very overwhelmed. I knew there were others in this world with this same challenge, and I decided early on that I would someday make a difference for those facing injuries. I am honored that I have been given this opportunity to improve the lives of those afflicted with spinal cord injuries, as well as the lives of their loved ones.

Joye’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Young women striving for a career in today’s world should seek and value education. They should enjoy their disciplines and make a conscience effort to learn the material, rather than just sit by and be taught.