Drives with her feet, Suncoast woman goes viral for overcoming disability limitations
SARASOTA - Call her an influencer and she’ll blush.
“It definitely took me time to feel comfortable with the idea that I don’t know how many people are going to see this or what the reaction was going to be but I just put it behind me, you know I’m just going to put it out there and see what happens,” says Rowley.
It seems Emily Rowley has a love hate relationship with social-media; some platforms have even gone so far as to flag her posts for inappropriate content. But, this California transplant Bradenton resident is just trying to proudly show the world a glimpse of her life.
“The comments were asking me other things, like what can you do or can you do specific things. From seeing that over time people kept commenting those on different social media platforms, it gave me the idea that maybe I should start sharing more so people can really see what I can do,” says Rowley.
And what she can do is nothing short of amazing. By far one of her more popular videos online is Rowley demonstrating how she drives a car, with her feet. Rowley needed a few adjustments to the car to make it work, but it wasn’t anything a certain retail giant couldn’t fix!
“So I just ended up getting on Amazon, some pedal extensions and the steering knob and it’s been great. I even sit on a little blanket to add that extra height,” says Rowley.
Rowley does have her eye on a more adaptive vehicle, eventually. But for now, she aims at empowering others with disabilities to get behind the wheel.
“They can, it just takes, you know, accommodating it to you,” says Rowley.
It’s not just behind the wheel where Rowley is trailblazing a path for others. She’s recently teamed up with Visit Tampa Bay to raise awareness for Disability Pride Month by experiencing some of Tampa’s most favorite attractions, like rolling a cigar and taking her driving skills to the water . She’s hoping to take the Suncoast by storm the same way. This is all part of Rowley’s mission to help destigmatize disabilities; because yes, she was born this way.
“So for me it was the bilateral upper limb amelia, so absence of both arms,” says Rowley.
Rowley is undoubtedly an inspiration for millions and humbly touts an ever growing fan base. Still, this vivacious 21-year-old steers the narrative with a simple message of perseverance.
“If you’re able to try hard and work for it, you can definitely accomplish some of the biggest challenges in life, for sure,” says Rowley.