I was born somewhere in the middle of Missouri (Ava to be exact), mostly grew up in St. Louis (with detours to Conneticut and Illinois), had the priceless experience of living with my grandparents my last two years of high school and ended up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for undergrad. I have had about twenty three different addresses in seven states and regardless of where I live or what coast I am on my family and friends (all scattered from coast to coast) are and always will be my rock, my motivators and my inspiration.
I always wanted to be a doctor or a nurse and was passionate about the healthcare industry at an early age. It was engrained in me that real life experiences as well as observing and listening to others in the industry would be critical to a successful career in the healthcare field. At thirteen, I began volunteering for the disabled and elderly in nursing homes and at fifteen I was in scrubs and a mask as a doctor’s assistant for oral surgery. I remember my freshman year advisor at UW’s Physician Assistant program drilling in me that it did not matter what my GPA was and that I would not be considered without hours and hours of real hands on experience. And so I began shadowing, volunteering and working three jobs…
I was a personal attendant for an individual with muscular spinal atrophy, shadowed occupational and physical therapist, was a behavioral therapist for children with autism and became a personal trainer. In the midst of all my jobs, I grew a deep love and compassion for those with chronic conditions. I developed a deeper understanding of everyday living, caregiving as well as the management of long term care, and I became passionate about helping these individuals improve their health.
After college, I moved to California and attempted two jobs : more home-based autism therapy and personal training. My niche in the training world was the “masters” (65+) and in the world of autism, I became focused on their health & wellness (and lack of resources and focus on addressing diet, exercise, sleep, etc). I then combined my passions and started, FITBuddies, small group training for teens and adults with special needs. I eventually established BuddiesInACTION with a focus on improving the health and wellness of individuals with Down Syndrome, Autism, and similar intellectual conditions.
Currently, my goal is to move BuddiesInACTION to the next level and expand our programs and services throughout the US. We look forward to reaching a wider population and creating more and more professional resources and opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.