WHEEL LIFE STORIES PRESENTS
PEOPLE of the WHEEL WORLD
How did you and your partner meet?
Tarrah: After I crossed into my sorority, the picture of me doing my sorority’s signature move in my wheelchair went viral. One of my sisters in Charlotte, who is engaged to one of Derek’s frat brothers, shared it. Derek thought I was cute, so he couldn’t help but roll into my DMs. We started off as friends, and here we are going on eight months of dating.
Derek: I met Tarrah after she went viral doing her sorority’s signature move in her chair. One of my friends who’s also one of her sorority sisters shared the picture on her Instagram story. It’s not often that you see a fellow Greek in a wheelchair too, so I went to her profile to say congratulations. Then I saw her pictures and thought she was cute, so I sent a DM. We became friends first and the rest is history.
Were you apprehensive to date someone else who is also in a wheelchair? If so, what changed your mind?
Tarrah: Honestly I never seriously considered it before. My little brother used to ask me why I haven’t dated someone else in a wheelchair. I would jokingly put down the idea by saying, “How would we roll on the sidewalk together? If we go to a restaurant, who’s going to hold open the door? How are two chairs going to fit in a vehicle?” The real answer was that I didn’t know any cute guys in wheelchairs. Just finding any guy actually attractive is a process, so you can imagine how much smaller the pool is for finding a rolling date. I knew we would have some physical challenges, but we are both smart and innovative, so I knew we would figure something out.
Actually on our first date, my wheelchair battery died on us on our way to eat dinner. We were about 30 min away from his place, so I suggested we make a train. He led the way with his charged chair, and I connected our seatbelts together so he could tow me back to his apartment. I’m pretty sure we looked weird as hell. A city bus driver pulled over and asked if we needed help. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were on someone’s (IG or SC) story. We ordered from our destination and ate in, so all worked out well.
Derek: Nah I wasn’t apprehensive to date someone else that was also in a wheelchair. This is my first relationship dating someone else in wheelchair as well because it can be hard trying to date in general at times, much less that it’s rare to find someone who is cute and also in a wheelchair as well. Honestly going in, I knew we’d have our set of challenges to overcome and that between the two of us we’d figure out how to navigate and overcome them. I think that by us both being in wheelchairs it gives us a unique common ground and understanding with one another.
What advice would you give to others that are nervous to date because of their “disabilities”?
Tarrah: The purpose of any relationship is to be a team. You need varying abilities in your team so you can function as whole. Through trial and error, Derek and I have learned our capabilities which just happen to compliment each other. He has more upper mobility, and I have more lower mobility.
Derek: Some advice I’d give to others that are nervous to date because of their “disabilities” is that you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. So, do not be afraid to put yourself out there to get to know people. And when it comes to asking or going out on dates, the worst thing that someone say is no, but if someone says no, that just means they’re not the person for you, but there is someone who is so you keep trying. You’ll know when you find that special person because it’s a whole different feeling.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What goals do you hope to accomplish in you personal and romantic life?
Tarrah: In 10 years I see myself working as a copywriter and creator of grammar materials for learning institutes of high school and above. Ultimately I would like to make ads for education, not necessarily promoting going to college but learning as a positive experience. My memoire about life in a wheelchair would be released and sold by then too. I am currently writing this book now, and it’s entitled “Where’s There a Wheel, There’s a Way.” I want to let others who may not have a rolling person in their life that people in wheelchairs do live happy and extraordinary lives. Our close families and friends know this, but outsiders usually take the “I pity thee” approach when they see our chairs and not our journeys.
Derek: In 10 years, I see myself enjoying the fruits of my labor as a successful special education teaching and mentoring the next generation. I also see myself as a youth athletic coach in basketball, football, and baseball (wheelchair versions and non-wheelchair) for both sports teaching and passing on my knowledge and love for the game in both sports especially basketball. I also see myself as a member of an adult adapted-sports league featuring the same sports as well. I see myself as a published author of a light-novel fantasy-action-adventure-martial arts series. Romantically, I see myself with my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend as my wife living in the city we enjoy in an adapted house to our needs, with at least one child but probably two children.
When did you know your partner was the one? What do you love most about each other?
Tarrah: I knew he was different when I realized that he actually listens. Our favorite part about our relationship is our open-wave of communication. To me, I think this is thanks to us both being in wheelchairs. When we started out as friends, being rolling and Greek gave us a lot of things talk about. We have compared experiences such as rolling around until the battery dies. We also share new information the other one had no clue on like free disability programs.
Derek: I knew that she was the one for me when we could talk about anything. I’m a social person, but it’s not always easy for me to open up. With her I can open up and show that vulnerable side that is guarded to the rest of the world. We both love the open-wave communication in our relationship. The thing I love is that we’re a team, so I got her and vice versa. We help each other, and our abilities compliment each other not just physically but personality wise at times too. At times we also balance one another out. We always push each other to be the best we can be and are each other’s biggest supporter.
“Spaghetti with meatballs”