The Road to Thriving
Melissa Vassallo Receives the Queen Elizabeth II
Diamond Jubilee Medal
Toronto, February 7, 2013 – On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, over 10 years and 100 operations later, Melissa Ann Vassallo of Oakville was one of twenty distinguished Canadians to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The closing celebration and medal presentation were performed by a number of prominent Canadians at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.
The commemorative medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne, and serves to honour the contributions and achievements made by Canadians from all sectors of society. Roughly 60,000 medals were struck for distribution to deserving citizens across Canada.
Melissa became a person with disabilities as a passenger after a tragic car accident in 2002. Just 22 years old and an undergraduate student at the time, she suffered catastrophic impairments and was hospitalised for over 1,460 days in multiple facilities in the United States and Canada.
“The first thing the doctor asked me after the accident was, ‘Do you not want to die, or do you want to live?’ and that was just one of those moments that will stick with me for the rest of my life,” says Vassallo. “I was told I may never walk again, and now, while I don’t run, I can walk really fast!”
After years of rehabilitation, Melissa is now an advocate and motivational speaker living on her own. While 92% of her body is still considered catastrophically impaired, she’s not letting anything stop her. From heading up a scholarship with the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) to starting an accessible sailing program with the Rick Hansen Foundation, Melissa also raised over $16K for medical equipment from her hospital bed, and is on her way to completing her Master’s degree in critical disability studies this spring.
“Now more than ever, I want to live and I want to empower others to do the same. It’s my lifelong commitment to help those with disabilities learn to thrive, not just survive – in their own way, in their own lives. So to receive this Diamond Jubilee medal for my work, I am incredibly honoured,” says Vassallo. “When life gives you lemons, you make lemon meringue pie!”
About Melissa Vassallo:
Passionate Disability and Healthcare Advocate, Motivational Speaker and Philanthropist, Melissa Vassallo has dedicated her life to making her community accessible through education, legislation, and community service. She is best known for empowering others to live life #ThrivingNotSurviving.
About Melissa’s Journey:
Her Website: http://www.melissavassallo.ca
Her Story, in Her Words: http://www.melissavassallo.ca/how-positive-thinking-changed-my-life/
Melissa Meets Oprah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUnRGjDfAjo
Twitter: @MelissaThrives | Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MelissaThrives
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