RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Up until 2010, Ali Ingersoll spent her life traveling the world and going on adventures. A freak accident changed everything.
Ingersoll broke her neck diving into shallow water in the Bahamas.
“I’m paralyzed from the chest down and my hands are paralyzed. Basically, a piece of me died that day when I broke my neck so you have to readjust to life,” said Ingersoll.
Ingersoll was recently named “Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina” for 2022. The competition is an advocacy pageant, but she’s been fighting for other people in similar situations years before ever getting this title.
It was her own struggles getting access to equipment she said she needed to be able to do everyday tasks that prompted her to essentially take on a second full-time job: health care advocate.
“I just got really fed up and one day I decided to help myself and then take my work national, partnering with a lot of organizations to teach self-advocacy. I can’t do it for you. I can teach you the steps and guide you, but you have to take your health care into your own hands,” said Ingersoll.
Ingersoll’s seat elevator took almost two years to get because her insurance kept denying her. She said it allows her to complete tasks on her own, as a quadriplegic.
“A lot of people don’t know where to start. They don’t how to read a health insurance policy…who wants to read the fine print? It’s complicated and it takes a lot of work,” she said.
Right now, Ingersoll is focusing on exercise equipment for people bound to a wheelchair. She’s working with health care companies and lawyers to change policies that would deem this type of equipment necessary.
“Exercise equipment is a non-covered benefit which means insurance won’t even take an appeal. They’ll say, ‘No it’s not in our policy.’ I am trying to change that because this policy does not account for wheelchair users who are non-weight bearing. My mattress, my bed, none of this will help me if I’m not strong enough to transfer myself into bed. I’m asking insurance companies to look at us on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
Ingersoll says getting companies to add the term “medically necessary” is the key term.
She will compete nationally next year for Miss Wheelchair America.
Visit Quirky Quad Diaries to learn more about Ingersoll’s advocacy work and her story.