At the age of ten years old, I was in a car accident with my mother. The firefighters arrived at a gruesome scene and didn't expect to find anyone alive.
Several weeks later, I awoke from a coma and found myself lying in a hospital bed - unable to move my legs. They told me that my T-10 spinal cord injury would forever paralyze me from the waist down.
The next year brought challenges much greater than just the physical. Every day I would scoot up a flight of stairs into my unaccessible home, struggling with the intense pain of loss all around me. Some of my family wouldn't speak to me anymore, my school kicked me out and my church said that God was punishing me - all because of my new disability.
During the years that followed, I became the wallflower that smiled through the pain - but never let anyone know the massive amounts of depression, anxiety and shame that I was battling inside.
I eventually realized that I didn't want to live a life of fear anymore - so I faced the thing that scared me the most. I got on a plane by myself and headed to Europe, where I studied abroad in Germany for a summer. It was the first time I realized that there was a strength inside of me that could bring me out of my world of fear.
Upon coming home, I had an inner voice that challenged me to again try something that intimidated me. As someone who struggled to get her voice over a whisper in most situations, I knew I had to force myself in the spotlight where my voice would be heard. I competed in the Ms Wheelchair NC pageant and to my surprise, won the crown. Then I went on to Ms Wheelchair USA...
@2020 | Madeline Delp Productions Inc.
@2020 | Madeline Delp Productions Inc.
As Miss Wheelchair USA, I wanted to explore this idea of fear-chasing, so I started my "Live Boundless" campaign. While driving cross-country for two months, I attempted extreme sports that most people would think are impossible for someone in a wheelchair. After rock climbing Mt. Rushmore, BASE jumping off a bridge, skydiving, surfing, skiing, swimming with sharks and exploring the deepest caves in the US, I proved it not only to others, but to myself.
The shy girl who was afraid to speak too loud and go anywhere by herself, was now driving cross-country and speaking to audiences across the entire United States on how to not be bound to your fears. I was finally allowing myself to be the true, confident me.
During this time, I was inspired to elevate Live Boundless from a simple campaign into a full-on movement: so I officially founded the Live Boundless nonprofit organization. Our mission is to create inclusive lives for people with disabilities, and we have since delivered over 400 wheelchairs to people in developing countries around the world.
Personally, I wanted to pursue something that would push me to continue facing my fears, while also pushing for disability inclusion. In 2018, I was the first woman in a wheelchair to compete in Miss North Carolina USA, and in the fall of 2019, became the first woman in a wheelchair to make the Top 10 in a Miss USA state pageant.
Currently, I work as a keynote speaker, executive director of Live Boundless and as a brand ambassador for major companies. As Miss Asheville USA, will be competing again in the fall of 2020 in Miss North Carolina USA. My goal with all my work is to show people how they can free themselves of the bounds they face and live a life of purpose and joy.
Thank you for reading my story!
Madeline launched her career as a public figure after winning the national competition, Ms. Wheelchair USA. Spending the year traveling and speaking across the United States, she established her reputation as a deeply-moving and inspirational keynote speaker and has been hired for major events, such as conferences at the NC Governor’s mansion and the US Senate. She has continued her pageant journey as the current Miss Asheville USA and will compete in Miss North Carolina USA in the fall of 2020.
Madeline’s ultimate goal is to give back to the world around her, not only by inspiring people to chase boundless dreams, but by also giving them the resources to do so. In 2017, she founded Live Boundless, and she and her team have since delivered over 400 wheelchairs over Asia and South America. As executive director of the organization, she is expanding programs locally and internationally to help give people access to inclusive lives around the world.
Madeline Delp learned at a young age that sometimes almost losing your life can be the catalyst to truly finding it in a way you never had before. After miraculously surviving a car accident that left her crushed in the back of a car and comatose for several weeks, she woke up to find that she had been paralyzed from the waist down. Madeline soon realized that the physical bounds she faced were small in comparison to the emotional repercussions of paralyzing fear and doubt. After a multi-continental journey of fear-chasing, Madeline learned that she could refuse to be the victim of her circumstance – that by mastering the mind, one can profoundly reclaim control of their life. Her journey included being the first paraplegic girl to BASE jump in the US, rock climbing the cliffs of Mt. Rushmore and driving cross country alone on a national tour.