Sassy Girl

Cheryl Marie Wade was born into a dysfunctional family. Both parents were alcoholics, and her father sexually abused her. At age 10, she discovered she had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Cheryl graduated from a children’s hospital based high school and attempted to go to college. She gave up after struggling with both physical and emotional issues. After nearly 10 years of deep despair and isolation, she tried college again when she was provided with an electronic wheelchair.

When she returned to college, she found that she was not alone and that there was a community of students with disabilities. She would eventually earn a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of California-Berkeley.

While at Berkeley, Cheryl joined a group called the Wry Crips which encouraged women with disabilities to write and perform. She began to write what she felt as a woman with a physical limitation. The writing became an outlet for other creative talents. She became one of the founders of a dance troupe for those with disabilities. Again, performing, like writing became liberating. Cheryl became a mentor for other disabled women by helping them unleash their own emotions.

As a performer, Cheryl took on a sassy persona. Her sassiness on stage led to a more emboldened self-image. She was no longer intimidated by appearing in public through her performances. She wanted people coming to her performances to become aware of the challenges of living with a disability.

In addition to her performances, Cheryl became an activist for disability related issues. She was especially vocal on medical indignities, uncaring doctors, the tragedy of assisted suicide, and being ignored by the public looking away.

She died at age 65 from the rheumatoid arthritis she long suffered from.

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“Shame is the big killer of us. Shame and isolation, not our particular disability.” – Cheryl Wade

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