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Wheels Up! Wrap Up

Meet the winners of this year's Wheels Up! Photo Contest


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Rocking This Life

Reprinted from SNS November 2018

The winner of the newly renamed 2018 SPORTS `N SPOKES photo contest lets nothing stand in the way of getting her Wheels UP!

This year’s annual SPORTS ’N SPOKES (S’NS) photo competition has a new name, but the winner shows that the contest is still centered around life and passion.

Juliet Justice embodies those concepts on this month’s S’NS cover as the 2018 Wheels UP! Photo Contest winner. Popping a wheelie in front of an iconic world landmark while on a family trip to Italy, the 28-year-old shows that a spinal-cord injury (SCI) isn’t standing in the way of her zest for travel and adventure.

Justice’s photo captured her positive attitude and passion for life, which help exemplify the focus of the newly renamed Wheels UP! Photo Contest. Formerly known as Get Out, Enjoy Life!, the contest underwent a change for its seventh year.


Wheels UP! Photo contest winner, Juliet Justice, gets her Wheels UP! at 15,000 feet over the Arizona desert. (Photo courtesy Juliet Justice).

With the help of contest partners Cure Medical, the Spina Bifida Association and the Abilities Expo, the photo contest part of the Get Out, Enjoy Life! was kept and the contest’s focus was changed up. The Wheels UP! contest puts the focus on you, your journey and how you enjoy life.

Proudly Different 

For Justice, that journey and enjoyment of life involves thinking about her injury differently and embracing who she has become because of it. 

The Gilbert, Ariz., native sustained her SCI from a chemotherapy overdose when she was 7 years old. It was obviously a life-changing event for Justice, but rather than be sad or angry about it, she thinks of it as something good that has opened up her life.

“Living with SCI has brought so much beauty into my life that I celebrate it every year,” Justice says. ”I don’t have big parties or anything of that sort, but every year I do something to mark the moment.”

Last year, she marked her 20th anniversary in a wheelchair by taking a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea with her husband, Michael, and parents, Dennis and Judith Martinez. The cruise included a stop in Pisa, Italy, and its iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, where Justice showed she was looking at life “Wheels UP!”

Besides winning a place on the cover of this month’s issue of S’NS, Justice’s first-place prize haul includes a $1,000 Southwest Airlines e-gift card and five copies of the November issue. 

However, landing the winning photo on the cover almost didn’t happen for Justice. Weeks before her scheduled trip to Italy, Justice was in surgery having a ruptured appendix removed. Despite the surgery, she recovered and headed overseas to “mark the moment” she started using a wheelchair.

The cruise also marked a few other huge milestones for her, including graduating from college, landing the perfect job and marrying her true love. And while some people might think that celebrating the year you started using a wheelchair is unusual, Justice believes it’s just part of her journey.

 “After going through that surgery and hospital stay, I knew I had to go to celebrate surviving another thing,” says Justice. “I have learned that I was made to rock this life. I love every part of my story, and I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.”

Those next 20 years currently include training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Orlando, Fla., and more travel abroad. While life may have challenged her early on, Justice has been able to turn that into something positive and is ready for more. 

“I’m proudly different, and now I use it as my superpower,” she says.

 

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Rocking This Life

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