Logan Olson couldn’t believe
she’d just tripped. But there she was, waiting to
cross the stage at her high school graduation, when
her new black shoes nearly sent her sprawling.
There was still time to back
out, retreat to the audience with her parents. But
then Logan would miss her only shot at crossing the
stage before her younger brother. She’d spent hours
rehearsing at the Spokane Opera House, practicing
long after her classmates went home.
A few years earlier, Logan, who
was born with congenital heart disease, didn’t know
if she’d ever walk again, let alone graduate. She’d
been walking through a haunted house on Halloween
2001 with her dad and two brothers when she suddenly
collapsed. She survived the heart attack, but fell
into a coma that left her with a brain injury.
When she woke up, Logan thought
she was 10 instead of a 16-year-old with a boyfriend
and driver’s license. She couldn’t hold up her head,
talk or swallow. She had to learn the most basic
skills, like chewing and brushing her teeth, all
over again. It took a month to sit up, 2-1/2 months
to focus her eyes.
A nurse suggested filling
Logan’s hospital room with stimulating things that
are important to teenage girls, such as clothes,
lotions and music. And it worked. Soon Logan was
mouthing the words to a favorite Christian music CD.
After 7 months at Sacred Heart
Medical Center and St. Luke’s Rehabilitation
Institute in Spokane, Wash., Logan went home. She
could feed herself and stand. But she still had a
long way to go.
“I wanted out of sweat pants,”
says Logan, who has two closets jammed with trendy
clothes, shoes and scarves. “I love to shop so
So, fastening the buttons on
her Gap jeans and tying shoes became part of her
therapy. She also longed to wear makeup again, but
found the bottles and tubes impossible to open and
hold properly with uncooperative fingers.
She pored through fashion
magazines for alternatives, but came up
empty-handed. And that’s when the idea struck: The
world needs a magazine for young women with
disabilities. A magazine featuring girls like her,
with tips on easy-to-handle beauty products and
clothes. She envisioned a place where they could
share advice on meeting challenges and living well.
Logan wants to encourage teens
to celebrate fashion instead of giving up on it, to
enjoy attention-getting styles and colors. “Do your
makeup still. Do your hair still. Keep living, keep
living, keep living!” she says.
On her road back to style,
Logan encountered plenty of setbacks, like fainting
in JC Penney’s during her first trip back to the
mall. There were other disappointments, too. Old
friends drifted away in a whirl of typical teen
activities she couldn’t participate in anymore.
Logan focused instead on her
new goals and steady progress. At therapy sessions,
she practiced using her walker. But she also learned
to project her voice and speak more clearly so she
could make business presentations about the
magazine. Speech therapist Jill Syth created
Logan-friendly practice sentences: “Let’s go to
Nordstrom’s and buy shoes.”
Logan learned to complete order
forms and schedule meetings using a day planner, and
she worked hard at writing clearly. “She just has
that light shining inside of her,” said Syth. “She’s
one of the most motivated people I’ve ever worked
When she returned to high
school after a 2-year absence, Logan met Mary O.
Gustafson, a special education teacher who shares
her love of fashion. They played games together to
improve Logan’s memory. Logan learned to type again,
preparing to answer letters from magazine readers.
Gradually, a new circle of friends emerged.
Then last spring, Logan’s
younger brother, T.J., was poised to graduate from
high school. Logan admitted it really bothered her.
She’d already watched T.J. get his driver’s license,
a rite of passage she’d had to forfeit. “That sucked
so bad,” said Logan, who’d had her license eight
months when her heart stopped.
Although Logan would attend
classes one more year, North Central High School
officials offered her the chance to cross the stage
for a certificate of attendance—moments before her
But could she do it? Her
walking was shaky, especially when she was nervous.
Her parents worried but let Logan decide. And she
couldn’t resist. She practiced breathing slowly,
accepting the certificate, and finding her seat.
When the big day came and she
tripped backstage three times, Logan hesitated. Then
she decided the stage was just one more hurdle, like
so many others she cleared.
In the end, she made it all the
way across on her own, stylish black shoes leading
Magazine and check out