[INTERVIEW] Chelsie Hill Aims To Change The World One ‘Push’ At A Time

Photo: Chelsie Hill, left, and fellow "Push Girl" Auti Angel. (Sundance Channel/Greg Zook)

Chelsie Hill always wanted to be a professional dancer. She started dancing at 3, and made the dance team all 4 years of high school. But everything changed her senior year, when she left a party with a friend who had been drinking.

Their car crashed into a tree and Chelsie, now 20, was paralyzed from the waist down. But she didn’t let her accident bring her down! She’s using her experiences to help others, and to educate teens about the dangers of drunk driving. She’s even still dancing, and is the only person on her dance team in a wheelchair! We recently spoke to Chelsie — who stars in the Sundance Channel’s original series “Push Girls” — about her life, goals, and message to others.

ACT: You started an amazing charity with your father — the Walk and Roll Foundation. What inspired it, and what exactly does the foundation do?

CHELSIE: The Walk and Roll Foundation is an idea that happened when I was in the hospital a few weeks after my accident. My dad and I were having a late night conversation and we thought, “Why not do something for people who are going through what I’m going through?”  We help people with spinal cord injuries — like by giving wheelchairs to girls who can’t afford them — and teach teens to make responsible choices when it comes to alcohol and drunk driving.

ACT: What do you have to say to people who think that drunk driving is no big deal?

CHELSIE: It happened to me. Everyone says, “It’s just a short drive home,” or, “It’s not going to happen to me,” or, “I’m a better driver when I’m drunk. I’m more focused.” But these people are just testing their luck. But I don’t just want to scare people. I want to inspire them too. I want to show them that life does go on after something like this. I’m still dancing! I’m on a dance team, and I’m the only person in a wheelchair!

ACT: How have your views on life changed since the accident?

CHELSIE: I’ve learned to really appreciate the little things and not take anything for granted. For graduation, I didn’t get to stand up with my class and turn my tassel. I can’t stand up and give someone a heart-to-heart hug. Things like this don’t seem like a big deal, but once they’re taken away from you, they mean everything.

ACT: What’s one thing that you used to take for granted, or that you feel like you appreciate more after everything you’ve been through?

CHELSIE: [Laughs] High heels! One of the best moments was getting my first pair of heels after the accident and feeling like a woman again.

ACT: You’re doing so many amazing things right now! Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are some of the goals you want to accomplish, and have they changed since before your accident?

CHELSIE: Before, my goal was to become a professional dancer. Now, my goal is to educate people about drinking and driving and how serious it really is. Right now, I’m working with Project Walk, a non-profit organization that has a spinal cord injury rehab center in Southern California. I want to someday open and run a similar facility in my hometown, Monterey. In 10 years, I also hope to be in a steady relationship with someone who can accept me for who I am and the fact that I’m in a wheelchair.

We have no doubts that, in 10 years, Chelsie will have done all of the above and then some. Learn more about Chelsie and Walk and Roll Foundation using the action links below!

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Learn more about Chelsie Hill's organization, the Walk And Roll Foundation.