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Jennifer Gasner

At seventeen, Jennifer Gasner was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a rare, progressive, neuromuscular disease. After the initial shock and denial wore off, she realized that her life was going to be full of joy. Her determination and sense of humor helped her meet the challenges she faced going from walking independently to using a walker, and eventually, a wheelchair. Jennifer attended college at her home state’s University of Wisconsin-Platteville where she received her BA in English. She was involved in the Student Activities Board, and campus radio station, where she honed her love for music. She then went on to Western Illinois University for her MS in Recreation. She began working with Independent Living Centers in Wisconsin and began advocating for people with disabilities and learning about disability culture. Her understanding of programs for the disabled, gave her the courage to move to San Diego by herself when she was 28. In San Diego, she worked for various non-profits and UC San Diego. She became involved in the disability community as a mentor for What’s Next, a mentorship program for youth with disabilities and as co-chair of UC San Diego’s Staff Association for staff with disabilities. In 2020, she became an Ambassador for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, (FARA), advocating for research and bringing awareness of FA to the community. As a result, she participated in Rare Across America, meeting with legislators to discuss current legislation affecting more than 25 million Americans living with one or more rare diseases. As a member of the International Memoir Writers Association, she was honored as a Member of the Month in February 2020. Her short story, Diagnosis, was selected for publication in Shaking the Tree Vol III. More of Gasner’s published stories can be found here. She is currently writing a coming-of-age memoir, with the working title, Walking is Overrated. Besides writing, in her free time, she loves doing yoga, going to movies, and traveling. She lives in San Diego, CA with her boyfriend Gregory and their two dogs, Wyatt and Ki.

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