The City of Key West is hosting a press conference by Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2016 at 10 a.m., July 22 at the Martin Luther King Community Center, 300 Catherine St. Please join us in welcoming her!
Heather Taylor is flying to major cities across Florida to highlight accessibility changes for persons with disabilities and raising awareness about Dysautonomia.
“I am excited to be visiting your beautiful city as part of a national news media event called, Ms. Wheelchair Florida Takes Flight,” said Heather.
When Randall Taylor first met his wife Heather he had no idea what the future would hold for them. Their relationship started at a small municipal airport where Randall would begin teaching Heather how to fly. They flew the entire East Coast from Florida to Maine together, enjoying the freedom of the skies.
Those care-free days would soon turn into days and nights in emergency rooms and hospitals, with questions unanswered. Heather found herself unable to stand or walk without experiencing cardiac distress. As Heather tried to care for their newborn, Grace, she would crawl on the floor alongside their baby, unable to do the functions most moms take for granted.
Doctors completed a series of tests, eventually going into Heather’s heart where they determined she has a rarely diagnosed condition called Dysautonomia. She was further diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). This disorder does not just require Heather to utilize a wheelchair for mobility, but causes all automatic functions of her body to not work properly (blood pressure, pupil dilation, digestion, temperature control, respiration, heart rate).
Rather than grow dismayed by her declining health, Heather chose to advocate for a cure and won the title of Ms. Wheelchair Florida in March 2016. She now is competing for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America, in hopes of spreading awareness about Dysautonomia/Disabilities. Her platform is “Turning Obstacles into Opportunities,” where she provides examples of how she herself has overcome the obstacles of experiencing a childhood of domestic violence, substance abuse and behavioral health issues culminating in the murder-suicide of her parents. How she is now bringing hope to others that face both visible and invisible illnesses. How she is turning Dysautonomia/POTS into a “Perfect Opportunity To Shine.”
Heather currently attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is pursuing her 2nd Master’s degree while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Knowing how important flight is to her family, she chose to create an awareness campaign that would allow her to join her family again in the skies. Randall, Heather and Grace will be flying throughout the state of Florida in an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Cessna 172 airplane where she will be at the familiar controls once again shoulder to shoulder with her husband as Pilot in Command.
The Taylor family’s flight plan includes travel to major cities throughout Florida meeting with city officials to discuss improvements and highlight those areas of the city which are ADA compliant. The Dysautonomia/Disability Awareness campaign will end in the state capital- Tallahassee, Florida on July 26th for a celebration of the ADA anniversary. Heather will provide Governor Rick Scott with the information she observed during her flight around Florida and discuss continued improvements for the state.
Gov. Scott and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in Florida have taken great strides in the implementation of the ADA, creating initiatives and programs for persons with disabilities to receive job placement and increased services. Just ten days after meeting in Tallahassee, Heather will be traveling to Grand Rapids, Michigan to share her story and findings at the national Ms. Wheelchair America competition. Her goal during the competition is to spread national awareness, help find a cure and show others that face obstacles in their daily lives that even the skies are not a limit when you never give up!