Vertical Mindset: Elevate Yourself With Your Experiences

Growth Is A Journey is honored to share Sarah Foley’s incredible story of healing and empowering others via her Vertical Blonde mission as a writer, speaker, lifestyle coach and disability icon coach. 

Over 8 years ago, during a vacation in Southern Utah with her boyfriend and some friends, Sarah felt at the top of the world – newly in love, with a dream job and supporting family and friends. Sarah recalls saying to her boyfriend that day: “My life is perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Little did she knew that her life would change forever later that day. During an ATV ride  through the backroads, Sarah got into an accident, trying to avoid a collision and veering off the trail. The ATV landed twice on her before she was thrown in a ditch. That ATV accident left her paralyzed with both her legs. 

After multiple surgeries and weeks in rehabilitation and learning how to move around in a wheelchair, Sarah first wanted to go back to normal including going back to work. While strong outwardly as if she had everything under control, Sarah was hurting in part because she was in denial: “I never thought it would get to five years and I wouldn’t be walking; the thought never crossed my mind. I always had this knowledge, even up on the mountain: It’s all going to be okay.” 

After her marriage to her boyfriend, and becoming a mom, Sarah moved to Hawaii where she started her journey of healing emotionally and physically: Once I got through that grief and the acceptance started to come, then I could just embrace it. Then it was like, ‘OK! This is my life”.

Still obsessed with reaching verticality again, Sarah found purpose and joy in offering this kind of elevation to others feeling disabled by their circumstances. By seeing herself as “sexy” again, she began a blog titled “Vertical Blonde” to “share her struggles of being partially paralyzed, and the triumphs of overcoming adversity“.

Later in 2018, Sarah launched the Vertical Beauty Project, which gives women with disabilities, specifically Spinal Cord Injury, makeovers, and photo shoots to capture their strength and allow their outer beauty to match their inner beauty: My driving force is to be there for the next woman who becomes injured…I didn’t understand how I could have a disability, use a wheelchair and still feel sexy. I started working with a photographer, and as she’s taking my photo, it was the first time I felt a connection to my chair. It was instant. I call it my glow. My glow was turned on, it was ignited: I found my calling.”

Sarah is Ms. Wheelchair Hawaii 2018 and finished first runner-up at the US Wheelchair America competition that year. 

Sarah is also offering the Disability Icon Inclusive Fitness program designed for female wheelchair users. That program and all of her upcoming workshops can be found on her website

Ultimately, Sarah’s mission is to inspire others to be empowered by their life experiences. 

Photo Credit: Sarah Foley

For more details or to follow Sarah on social media, see below:

(Article and picture published with Sarah Foley’s permission)

Published by Helene R. Johnson

Helene R. Johnson is a pseudonym. Living life as a mom and manager. Articles are also published on, a site dedicated to human resources with a focus on transformational change and development.

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