Beyond the Wheelchair: How Renee Found Her Courage
Before I left home, the idea of going off to college scared me. I live every day with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and chronic pain.
During my junior and senior year of high school, I was a frequent patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I faced several medical problems, and the experience caused me to struggle with depression and anxiety. I was in so much pain and on so many medicines that I felt like I wasn’t “me” anymore, to the point where I wanted to end my life. My friends and family showed me my worth, they believed in me when I didn’t, and they prayed for me when I lost all hope in God. I finally saw joy in my life.
Everyone in my high school knew my story. Everyone saw me as an inspirational, smiley girl even though I had major obstacles. I absolutely loved high school, but the idea of living independently, making friends and finding an accepting community away from home was intimidating. Anxious thoughts ran through my head throughout senior year as graduation approached. I wondered if anyone in college would fully see me and see past the wheelchair.
The summer before college, a friend of mine suggested I go through recruitment and explore sorority life. At first, I thought my friend was crazy — I never saw myself as a “sorority girl.” But, I began praying on it, and felt called to check it out. In the fall, I signed up for recruitment. The process was difficult, and going from chapter to chapter was so exhausting, but when I rolled into Kappa Delta it hit me hard. I immediately felt at home. This was a true sisterhood, a group of women who not only loved each other but were there for each other through everything. I didn’t want to leave. I felt so honored when they me called back to the chapter for each round of recruitment.
As Bid Day approached, I grew concerned. I knew Kappa Delta was meant to be my new home, but in the back of my mind, I worried I wasn’t good enough. On the day I received my bid, I opened the envelope to see Kappa Delta. I was overjoyed and beyond excited! I remember rolling up to the mic saying, “My name is Renee Dollenmayer, and I’m rolling home to Kappa Delta!” My new sisters ran toward me and gave me the biggest hug. In that moment, I felt worthy and loved.
Kappa Delta changed my life forever, and I’m forever grateful for this organization. I am now chaplain for our chapter, and in this position I strive for the “honorable, beautiful and highest.” KD provided me with the confidence to change the world, it strengthened my faith beyond measure, and it gave me an incredible sisterhood, women who have my back no matter what. Above all, my chapter has opened my heart to the impossible. No matter the obstacles you face, you can do anything.
Discover more about the Kappa Delta experience here.