Dawn Ziegler, a member of the Madison Wisconsin Chapter, grew up on a small farm outside of Waunakee, Wisconsin, and was paralyzed in a car accident when she was 16, resulting in a C5/6 spinal cord injury.
“One of the most frustrating things was not knowing what to do with myself. It killed me not being able to help out on the farm with chores and field work. I was used to being on my feet and active most of the time, so this was an adjustment! At the same time, I wasn’t one to sit around and watch life pass by … but ‘what to do’ became my burden.”
Dawn’s love of the outdoors led her to take accessible sailing lessons. Those lessons proved to be the beginning of her journey to share her adaptive recreational experiences with others. As a member of the Madison Spinal Cord Injury Group she has planned a handcycling clinic and participated in many of the Madison SCI Group handcycling events.
For over four years she has either co-lead or been on the action team for the annual Mirror Lake adaptive paddling trips for members. Dawn has met with the Madison area paddling group to demonstrate how the adaptive kayaks work so that members can paddle with the local club.
In the community she has organized a few Becoming Outdoors Woman (BOW) workshops for women with disabilities. Additionally, Dawn is the editor and co-owner of Able Outdoors magazine (www.AbleOutdoors.net) and was the SCI group’s newsletter editor for over three years. She has had articles published by Sport-N-Spokes and other magazines.
Dawn has been a long-term peer/mentor for many in the community and those who have moved away. She continues as an active mentor for the Madison chapter and attends many member meetings and events. She served on the Madison SCI Board of Directors for one two-year term and has been on the Employment Resources, Inc. (ERI) Board of Directors for over five years.
Dawn’s availability to answer questions and her passion for helping others are what makes her a shining light to all. People of all ages and abilities seek out her knowledge and experience. They respect her drive and attention to detail. Even when she is dealing with caregiver turnover, wheelchair issues, or those troublesome SCI health issues, she continues to make herself available. Her independence and strong drive is motivational. Personally and professionally, Dawn Ziegler is an outstanding leader who emulates Madison SCI’s motto to “plan, go, and conquer!”