Ali is a modern Renaissance woman who hasn’t slowed down since she lost her leg above the knee in a boating accident in 2009. She coaches, teaches and competes in power lifting. She feeds her creative side through her art, and relaxes outdoors with her fiancé Noah and her dog. Ottobock’s Director of Marketing Communication, Karen Lundquist, recently spent time with Ali and wanted to blog about her experience getting to know her as they shot a video together about Ali’s life. You can view the video at the end of this post.
Bellingham, Washington is beautiful, and very typically Pacific-Northwest. Pines, the sound, boats, cottages, and everyone playing outside.
In this iconic setting I got to meet Ali. I had asked her to be the subject of a video for us, something that would show her approach to the realities of life with limb loss. I’m the head of communications for Ottobock in North America, and one of the best things about my job is getting to capture and share the stories of people who use our products.
Ali uses the Genium prosthetic knee, but the real point of the story is that Ali juggles her career as a teacher and coach with her passions for weight lifting, her dog Kolbi, her art, and her fiancé Noah.
I got to check it all out, and I’m looking forward to the editing process and having a video to share with all of you, but in the meantime, some thoughts.
Ali thought nothing of trekking up and down her stairs with laundry, with Kolbi and Frieda (her roommates’ Burmese Mountain Dog) “helping”. It was so fun to hear the thundering herd follow her up and down as we did several takes. (look up Burmese Mountain Dog and imagine having that “help”!) We also headed to the local dog park, marveled at the size of rhododendrons in Washington (I’m
from Minnesota, where they are definitely small bushes – and I don’t look up to them!), and watched the dogs race for balls and sticks.
Seeing Ali’s studio and her artwork was powerful. I love her approach – that she isn’t
narrowing down her medium, but takes the chance to explore whatever she wants to create. The color palette is wide open, sizes vary, and it’s like getting to see what she cares about by strolling in her studio. It’s in an old church, and the ceilings and open space are great – and filled with salsa music at night!
Like all good Washington dwellers, we spent a lot of time outside, too. We interviewed Ali and her fiancé Noah at the Boardwalk, with the sound in the background. We competed with ship welders, Capoeria practitioners, planes, trains and automobiles as we captured their story. They told us their wedding date is set for July 4, 2014, which marks the 5 anniversary of their reconnection – the same event that cost Ali her leg also introduced her to her second chance and to Noah. They are clearly in love, and I am very excited to hear more about their “getting married on a mountaintop” (I’ll let Ali tell you why that is funny!)
Ali had a previous engagement – a meeting with a passel of middle-school girls – she is coaching a soccer team, and jumped right in and showed off her footwork. She is excited to get more involved in her career in physical education, and thoroughly enjoys coaching and mentoring.
Day two focused on one of her biggest passions – her weight lifting. It is incredible to see, both the outward “that is a huge amount of weight” response, but also the intensity of her concentration, the beauty and rhythm of her motions, and the connection between her and her trainer, Kevin Stewart. She is part of Team Phoinix, one of Kevin’s passions, and he clearly understands how to
motivate others to drive themselves to create, meet – and beat – their goals.
Ali is articulate and passionate, and her words ring with truth and integrity. She clearly knows what she wants and who she is, and she is living a full life. It is easy to be impressed with her high levels of activity and what she is able to accomplish. What touched me even more were the connections she has with the people she cares about and how much she values the small and big things in life. From laughing with Noah to making sure Kolbi is comfortable with all the camera equipment invading her house – her consideration and joy in all she does really came through as she shared her story with me. I appreciate it so much, and it is such a gift!
Tell us what you think of Ali’s story in the comments below.