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Pantsuit Nation—Meet Joe and Hilary

by Libby Chamberlain

June 4, 2017

People coping with physical impairments have enough challenges to meet without being mocked and discriminated against due to their perceived limitations. Hilary’s and Joe’s strength and resolve in the face of adversity is an inspiration to us all.

Hilary

Hilary Christensen

Photo by Paul Toepfer Photography

The person I thought about more than anyone else when I voted this year was my sister, Rachel.

Born with a rare genetic disorder, she spent most of her life in a wheelchair. She was and is my hero. Tough as nails, a feminist, advocate, and writer.

When Donald Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, I pictured Rachel witnessing that. I was so upset, I couldn’t think of much else for days.

My vote is dedicated to my sister, Rachel, who is way too Nasty to ever Rest in Peace.

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Joe Akmakjian, Colorado

Joe Akmakjian

Photo by Khristy K. Preston

I got to hug Bill!

Just days before the election. This was unforgettable. When he got to me, I thanked him for his support of the disabled community and then this happened. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was speechless! Trust me, that’s rare!

I’m Mexican, Middle Eastern, gay, and disabled. I use a wheelchair and have spinal muscular atrophy. Doctors said I wouldn’t live to be twelve—I’m now twenty-five and the national ambassador for the MDA. My dream is to show the world disabled people are just like anyone else. I want to inspire everyone to live life to the fullest, despite limitations.

I want everyone to feel included in this country. Thanks for listening and creating this wonderfully supportive community, everyone!

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Missed previous stories? Read stories from Adrian and Addie, Rachel, Rajib and Lauren, Karen, Brianna and Jia, and Peter and Aaron!

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Libby Chamberlain is the founder of Pantsuit Nation. She lives in coastal Maine with her husband and two young children.