RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau
Actress, model, writer, and U.S. Para Equestrian Alanna Flax-Clark currently lives in New Jersey. Flax-Clark believes she is who she is today not in spite of her disabilities, but because of them. She’s had her own unique challenges, her own strengths and talents that she’s nurtured, and her own weaknesses and disability that she’s had to overcome. Flax-Clark was diagnosed with a chronic neurological disease when she was younger. In her mid-20’s, she contracted a severe case of the influenza virus which caused her immune system to attack her nerves leaving her a quadriplegic.
Flax-Clark earned an M.S.Ed., specializing in teaching students with severe disabilities. When classroom teaching was no longer viable, she sought alternatives. Flax-Clark decided to test out Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) therapy for herself after becoming frustrated with her traditional rehab. It changed her life completely. Flax-Clark fell in love with horses and the sport of Para-Dressage through her rehab with physical therapy through (EAAT). With her background as a Special Education teacher, she also began working for this program, and saw how her students enjoyed and benefited from this type of therapy.
Now, after only riding and competing for a few years, Flax-Clark has received accolades and awards such as Adequan/USDF Para Dressage Rider of the Year in 2019, Silver Medal for the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team in Caledon, Grand Champion at the Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3* in 2019, and Grade 2 National Champion in 2020.
Training full time in the sport of Para-dressage while also managing a full work schedule, Flax-Clark is a disability advocate, mentor to newly disabled members of the community, and aims to bring greater awareness to how sports and an active lifestyle can positively impact people with disabilities. She works to fight stigmas and create opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Most importantly, she believes that finding one’s passion in life is key.
Flax-Clark is quoted as saying, “You never know what can happen in life, how quickly things can change. This has given me back my life, my spirit. And my journey is still unfolding as it should be. I know I’m strong enough to handle anything and am grateful for all my family and friends who have supported me along the way.”
To learn more about Para Equestrian Alanna Flax-Clark, click here.
About RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau
RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau offers diverse speakers with disabilities to teach about disability inclusion; and/or to offer their expertise in an array of topics, ranging from Art and Entertainment to Entrepreneurship, Education, Finance, Law, Psychology, Religion (of many faiths) and every vocation in between. Our Speakers Bureau and its divisions are expanding. If this is of interest to you or you know a professional with a visible or nonvisible disability who might be interested, you (or she/he/they) can email its project director, Debbie Fink, at firstname.lastname@example.org.