Melissa Vassallo Headshot copyAs a Disability and Healthcare Advocate,, Melissa Vassallo has dedicated her life to sharing her message. She is best known for empowering others to live life #Thriving not just surviving and is the recent recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her ongoing accomplishments in this area.

Melissa became a person with disabilities as a passenger in a tragic car accident in 2002. She suffered catastrophic impairments, was hospitalized for over 1460 days in seven hospitals in the United States and Canada, endured numerous surgeries and over one hundred procedures, and spent several more years in intensive rehabilitation.

I believe that human variation, is normal. I choose to live my life thriving, not just surviving and reimagining what disability means to all of us.Melissa Vassallo Idiens

Her life today is an example of what is possible when you choose to thrive. She is the woman behind the first Accessible Sailing program in Oakville, the former Co-Chair of Rick Hansen’s Wheels in Motion event, the founder of an Access Award scholarship at the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Oakville, and a popular speaker on the power of patient-centered care.

She has a B.A. Hons in English Literature, a certificate in Business Management Skills and is completing her Masters at York University in Critical Disability Studies. A proud Alumni of Queen’s University, Melissa was an integral part of the first ever accessible Homecoming event at Queen’s delivering the keynote at the launch of its Accessibility Hub.

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