don and paula greenDon and Paula Green

2013 Honorees

This is Don’s Story: In 1986 I was hit by a car. I hit the steering wheel and I received a ruptured aorta. I was in the hospital for 3 months, the doctor said I was lucky to be alive. Due to the loss of blood to the lower part of my body I had nerve damage to my legs. I was in therapy for 6 years trying to get back on my feet but to no avail.

This is Paula’s story: I was born with congenital myopathy but was not diagnosed until I was 25. Congenital myopathy is a form of MD and progresses slowly. I got hired to be the secretary at SCIL at the age of 23. I retired from SCIL after 21 years.  At the age of 25 I almost died from a respiratory arrest, and was placed on a ventilator. Since then I have gone from a cane to a walker and now I use a wheelchair to go places. This equipment allows me freedom to enjoy of my life.

We met and fell in love at SCIL, and have been married for 18 years.The Independent Living Philosophy is very dear to our hearts. Due to our disabilities and wanting to be independent we do things differently than most folks, but that does not stop us from having fun or meeting our goals. Over the years we have been coast to coast, and also Canada to Mexico.  In 2003 we decided to tackle the enormous task of building a wheelchair accessible home in the country. This task definitely took teamwork but we succeeded. One of our favorite things to do is having coffee and watching the wild life from our breakfast nook.  We like to focus on what we can do, not on the things we can’t.

When Don was doing outpatient rehabilitation about 27 years ago at a local facility for his disability he was a strong support for Teri Barnett who was there after acquiring a spinal cord injury. “Don was always a good listener and always gave me support,” said Teri. “Ever since I met him he has been cracking jokes and being ornery, but that support he gave me and continues to provide has meant so much to me and keeps me going.”

“Working alongside Paula for 20 years I have been amazed at her strength and determination to not only live a successful and full life but to empower others to do the same. And, for all those years Don has been a leader for the SCIL Social Club as well as many other community organizations.  They are a dynamic couple whose commitment to their fellow man and woman is evident to all who have the privilege to know them,” said Marion Trimble, SCIL Outreach Coordinator. “Don & Paula Green are thet rue examples of what the independent living philosophy is about. They exude self determination, compassion for others, and are positive role models to the hundreds of consumers they have encountered along their journey.”

“As true advocates Paula and Don Green are an inspiration to the disability community. Through Paula’s example she has taught me so much about life, honor and treating other people with dignity.  I would not be the person I am today without Paula’s guidance and support.” – Kristi Dieleman

“Paula is an institution at SCIL. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to know as much or be the same level of leader as her. The success of the CDS program is due to her hard work over many years,” said Leslie Clary, SCIL CDS Coordinator.