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Don’t Sit on Your Dreams: How a U.S. Army Veteran Refuses to Take No for an Answer

By Gehrig Habermehl, based on Joanne de Biasi’s interview with Dianne Brunswick

Dianne Brunswick in front of a large building in Norway with doric columns and a statue in front.

Stunning Views

Sitting at the top of the Grand Canyon, Dianne admired the vast and beautiful landscape in front of her. While looking at the canyon walls and the massive drop below to the canyon floor, she knew she had to see it from the bottom. This would not be an easy task and would most certainly take hard work and dedication.

After some time researching, she found a group that did river excursions for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the last outing of the year was only a week away, and she would not be able to go. For some, this might be enough to call it quits and give up, but not Dianne. She patiently waited for the following year and completed the expedition down the river. This trip was a stepping stone for even more accomplishments for Dianne, including one of her biggest; becoming a recreational instructor so she can help others experience the magic of adventure she felt on the river.


Dianne is a prime example of how hard work and determination can lead to tremendous accomplishments. Previously serving in the United States Army, Dianne was no stranger to facing challenges. However, after a spinal cord injury due to being struck by a car during her service, she now faces new types of challenges.

Although life became different after the injury, it didn’t stop Dianne from following her heart and setting challenging goals for herself. After the river trip, she went back to school to get her master’s degree in recreation. After moving to Phoenix, she began volunteering for the city of Phoenix’s adaptive recreation service until they eventually hired her. She also completed four more river trips, including two to the San Juan River and Cataract Canyon, and one more through the Grand Canyon.

Travel and Competition

Kayaking and rafting were not the only adventures on Dianne’s radar. She is also an avid cross-country skier and has had some amazing opportunities to travel and compete. Ski for Light is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for people with visual and mobility disabilities to experience cross-country skiing. Through the organization, Dianne competed in Norway on four different occasions in the 5k, 10k, and biathlon. This is yet another example of how Dianne illustrates how you can do anything you set your mind to if you put in the time and hard work. Although challenging, the competition was certainly a rewarding experience getting to meet other like-minded individuals along with the opportunity to explore Norway. Dianne especially enjoyed seeing the different parts of Norway, including the wonderful museums.

A behind shot of Dianne racing at a ski competition in Norway. She is using sit-skis and poles and wearomg a racing bib with the number 031 on it.

A Road to Recovery

Dianne in her wheelchair smiling and wearing a Paralyzed Veterans of America polo shirt, glasses, and an Abilities Expo badge.

Dianne is currently working hard to start some incredible new adventures after recovering from shoulder issues. While regaining mobility in her shoulders, she enjoys hand cycling as a way to stay active and healthy for her future endeavors. Dianne doesn’t plan to let her shoulders stop her and is looking forward to returning to skiing as soon as she is physically able. Next on her list is getting back into her boat to see what she can do on the water. As for her larger goals, her next 2LIV4 experience is to travel to New Zealand to explore the country, return to several places in Europe, and see more of the United States. Setting both challenging and rewarding goals is a large part of Dianne’s 2LIV4 and what makes her story so encouraging.

“If there’s something on your heart that you want to do, find a way to do it… there’s a way to do it; you just have to figure it out. Don’t sit on your dreams. If there’s something you want to do, try it. Your adventure is out there!”

-Dianne Brunswick

Resources mentioned in this article: Ski For Light

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