CEO and founder of ican
When Heidi Van Arnem was 16, an accidental gunshot severed her spinal cord leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. With much of the diligence and fortitude of Christopher Reeve, but years before, Heidi went through months of rehab determined to accomplish the same goals she had before the accident. She says,"Who knows what road is planned for you." She graduated high school in 1989 and enrolled in law school, but didn't finish, deciding instead to open a travel agency that specilized in the travel needs of wheelchair users. In addition, she founded a non-profit organization to cure paralysis and wrote newspaper columns on disability issues. In her "free time" she marketed a "lightweight lifting device" that her mother invented.
Realizing the vast potential of the internet for distributing information, in 1998, Van Arnem founded ican and ican.com. A site devoted to the disability community, it publishes articles on all aspects of a normal lifestyle from dating to finance, to holiday fashion. By consulting with large corporations on sensitivity training for better employee understanding of the disabled, she is able to fund the web site and in addition, make it profitable.
A huge proponent of this technology, the internet, Van Arnem's goal is to teach and liberate through the web.
"It's (the web) a relief from isolation, a communications vehicle, and it helps people with disabilities do their banking, find employment or find a home."
Heidi Van Arnem, now 34, continues to fight for "the rights and opportunities" of the disabled and with the help of the web reaches out to 54 million americans with disabilities, who with her help, all know "ican."