St. Paul woman’s life story included in book highlighting people living with disabilities

Rachel Wobschall recites a passage from the book. (FOX 9)

A new book featuring the story of a woman from St. Paul is about to hit shelves next week. Like other people in the book, her story aims to inspire both people with disabilities and those without.

"I was born six weeks early which wasn’t that early by today’s standards, but it was back then," read Rachel Wobschall from her book.

Rachel Wobschall is honored to share a summary of her life story within the new book "Pure Grit: Stories of Remarkable People Living with Physical Disabilities."

Wobschall has held leadership positions in government, higher education, and nonprofits while always also being an advocate.

"I was at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act over 30 years ago," she recounts. "So even though all my jobs have not been specifically disability-related, it’s always something - obviously since I live with cerebral palsy, that is something that I continue to want to give back to and improve the life of."

Author Lily Collison was first inspired by her now-adult son, also born with Cerebral Palsy. The family started traveling from Ireland to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for surgeries when he was nine.

"People with his disability, it’s a physical disability," Collison explained. "It's a disability with no cognitive problems and yet people with this condition, a lot of them are unemployed, don’t have relationships and don’t have children. And that really bothered me."

So, Collison teamed with co-author Kara Buckley, senior advisor to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and together they highlight 19 people from all around the world, with different ages and career paths, who are not simply overcoming disability but, in her words, "accommodating disability and flourishing in their lives."

"This book isn’t Chicken Soup for the Soul," she said. "This book is telling real stories of real people. As I say, their struggles and their successes."

Wobschall happens to be the only Minnesotan and Gillette patient featured and hopes readers will be as inspired as she is.

"I think it’s a good lesson for all of us to use everything we have for the greater good," Wobschall said.

This is now the third book available through Gillette Press, which was established just before the pandemic. All the proceeds go to physical disability research.