Benveet “Bean” Gill worked as an X-ray technologist in a cardiac catheterization lab. When she turned 30, everything changed. She left an abusive relationship, and her dad left her family, and, during vacation, a virus paralyzed her from the waist down.
While relaxing in a hotel room with close friends, she felt a sudden, stabbing pain in her spine. “The pain lasted only a few minutes, and then I couldn’t move my right leg. I was paralyzed within 10 minutes.”
Multiple neurologists told Gill a virus was likely to blame, and she would regain full use of her legs within weeks. After several months of no progress, Bean was forced to face her new reality. A once athletic young woman who enjoyed modeling, kickboxing, and weightlifting, she struggled with betrayal by her own body. She couldn’t roll over, sit up, or get out of bed without help. She was forced to find her way through an inaccessible society while living with paralysis and learning how to love herself – disability and all.
“My life was flipped upside down. I hated everything about myself. I hated my life.”
Bean took her health into her own hands, seeking out the answers and help she needed to confront her challenges head-on. Eventually, Gill found her confidence again. She worked to regain movement in her legs and pushed herself to try sports she had never attempted before being paralyzed. If it weren’t for the worst year of her life, Gill wouldn’t be who she is today.
Bean’s sudden onset of paralysis opened her eyes to the many injustices, inequalities, and challenges that are a part of life for those with disabilities. She went from dealing with a new identity of life in a wheelchair to using her situation as a platform to help others.
She inspires, motivates, and promotes recovery with increased function for individuals with spinal cord injuries and associated neurological disorders. “Beane shows them that they can do the things they were told never to do.”
Being a woman of color who also has a visible disability, Gill is an example of unwavering strength and resilience. By confronting adversity and sharing her story, Bean Gill breaks down barriers and changes the stigmas surrounding people with disabilities.
Gill’s work has earned her local and national recognition, including the Top 40 Under 40, Women Entrepreneur Award, and Woman of Vision Award. Bean is the reigning Miss Wheelchair and was recognized for inspiring women.