Archetypes: Aimee Wehmeier
An interview with Aimee Wehmeier, director/CEO of Paraquad, one of the first Centers for Independent Living in the US. Wehmeier moved to St. Louis to join Paraquad in January 2013, following six years as the executive director of Services for Independent Living in Columbia, MO. Not only is she the recipient of the Governor’s Council on Disability’s Inclusion Award, but she also serves on the board of St. Louis’ Diversity Awareness Partnership and takes part in various community activities for the disabled. As the leader of St. Louis’ largest disability services provider, Wehmeier plans to raise the visibility of Paraquad in the community and expand its health and wellness center, as well as complete construction on a fully accessible sports and recreation center. Wehmeier believes in the independent living philosophy and the understanding that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own lives. Born with muscular dystrophy, Wehmeier says many have seen her successful career and independent life as inspirational; instead, she wants stories similar to her own to be seen as typical for people living with disabilities.
What is your current frame of mind? Happy.
When and where are you happiest? In the sunshine with people I love and my silly poodle, Wyatt.
What is your favorite smell? Honeysuckle.
What is one word that describes you? Unique.
What did you eat for breakfast today? I did not eat breakfast, but I did have an iced coffee.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Like.”
What is your most marked characteristic? My smile.
What is your greatest weakness? Potato chips.
What trait do you most admire in others? Selflessness.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My family and friends.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Stronger lungs.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My career and the opportunity to make a difference.
Which living person do you most admire? My sister, Cindy.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Ed Roberts, the father of independent living.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be? A cooler, more hip version of myself.
What is your most treasured possession? My great-grandma’s wedding ring.
What is your greatest extravagance? Food and furniture.
What is your greatest fear? Dying too young.
On what occasion do you lie? To preserve someone’s feelings if it doesn’t matter.
Who are your favorite writers? Augusten Burroughs and Amy Tan—I love historical Asian culture.
Which artists do you admire most? Cat Stevens and Adele.
What is your favorite hobby? Cooking and finding new recipes. I love comfort food.
Where would you like to live? Somewhere warm, without mosquitos.
Who are your heroes in real life? Everyday people who do great things despite really big obstacles.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Myrtle Spain. She is not related to me, but she is one of the people I’ve loved most in the world. She’s like a grandma. I’d like to tell her thank you.
What’s something interesting that you just learned? I’m on the quest for a pet, and I learned that Sphynx cats have to be bathed every week to two weeks. Also, people are still allergic to them even though they don’t have hair.
What are you most looking forward to? Building my life in St. Louis.
What is one thing you wish would happen? Equality.
What is something you still want to learn? How to garden.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? I’ve never traveled internationally, so I think I’d like to try that.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Stop worrying, it’s going to be okay.
Photo credit: Wesley Law