This Adaptive Model Turns a Runway of Dreams into Reality
“When I’m afraid of something, it really makes me want to do it,” says Rhoda Mills.
Using this fear to her advantage, Mills auditioned to be a model in a Zappos-sponsored fashion show.
In spring 2019, Zappos Adaptive teamed up with the Runway of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works toward a future of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity in the fashion industry. Several models were selected to participate — including a nervously excited Mills.
Years earlier, Mills survived a violent attack by her then former boyfriend. Four gunshots hit her from behind. One of those bullets hit her spine, paralyzing her from the chest down. Beaten down but not allowing her spirit to be broken, Mills grabbed life with both hands.
“Disability doesn’t change how you want to present yourself to the world,” says Mindy Scheier, founder of the Runway of Dreams Foundation. “The idea is simple but has gone largely unrecognized by the fashion industry. It’s time for brands and designers to embrace people with disabilities as an important part of our culture.”
Mills, and Zappos, couldn’t agree more. Since 2017, Zappos Adaptive has carved out a unique space in online retail with an ongoing goal to connect people with products that make life easier. Items available include slip-on shoes, pull-on pants, reversible clothing, magnetic closures, and much more.
"Having a more inclusive fashion show really says you care about people with disabilities," says Mills. "It really helped me become more comfortable in my own skin, and in my wheelchair."
Despite the emotional and physical demands Mills faces, she continues to move forward and stand tall. Even when she's forced to sit down.
This article is reproduced with the permission of Zappos. (http://zappos.com/adaptive)