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This Changed My Personal and Professional Lives

Text written on a wall reads, "Dream Big and Work Hard! Jean Driscoll. 10-6-18. Boston Marathon. 1996, '91, '92, '93, '94, '95, '96, 2008

By Ryan Wilson

Team Trust, CEO

I grew up in the middle of cornfields in a small town in Illinois.

It seemed I was the only person in the entire county in a wheelchair, though that is not statistically accurate.

When I transitioned to the University of Illinois, an hour and a half away from home, I encountered, almost immediately, extremely talented athletes with disabilities and massive hearts.

They let me into their communities and worlds.

It was amazing.

At the same time, I noticed most media outlets — radio, newspaper, TV, digital — were not covering these athletes. 

It was disappointing, and certainly a missed opportunity.

So, I assembled a few friends, and we proposed to create what was the only Paralympic-specific radio program in the nation at the University of Illinois.

Our pitch was successful, and we eventually landed a Friday drive-time slot.

We interviewed many of the greatest athletes in the world in our studio, even the one and only Jean Driscoll.

She, like all our other friends who visited the studio, signed the wall.

The show did fizzle out after my graduation, but it unquestionably inspired the creation of Team Trust.

There never really is a bad day to authentically promote the disability community.

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Ryan: Why My Disability Is Great

By Ryan Wilson

Team Trust CEO

Having a disability has taught me many lessons.

For one, I have learned to respect and embrace my body.

My body, I believe, “speaks loudly” when I do not take care of it: I may hurt, I may be sick, or, yes, I may be grouchy.

More than that, my disability has taught me how to trust myself and others.

The reality is, persons with disabilities need a little more help sometimes. 

We all need help every now and then, but there are things disabled people just physically can’t do.

Ryan is shown shirtless, lying in a hospital bed.
Last August, I fell out of my wheelchair, and broke three bones. Clearly, my body declared it was unhappy.

For example, I cannot do jumping jacks, or else I will break bones. I also cannot lift heavy objects for similar reasons. 

I used to rely on person assistants for help with my daily activities. 

They were college students, and had a number of tasks.

But they broke my trust many times.

While that did hurt, even literally, I never lost my trust in humanity. 

I trust people want to help. 

I trust they want to be kind.

I trust we all have hearts.

This trust in others and trust in human kindness is why we gave Team Trust its name.

As I learned firsthand, trust is synonymous with confidence, belief and love.

When we trust ourselves and each other, we are a team with ourselves and with others.

Every client, worker and helper bee of Team Trust, is a part of our team.

And together, we are stronger.

Because we Trust.

That’s why I am glad I have a disability.

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You Might Think I Need Help, but I Don’t

Ryan is shown in a hospital room wearing a white cap.

By Ryan Wilson

Team Trust, CEO

Because I have a disability, I think people assume I need help with everything.

They may think I need help with everyday tasks, and require a whole staff of personal assistants (PAs) to fill my needs.

This was the case for about 24 years of my life, but not any more.

I used to have a staff of about eight PAs in college, and I had an aid in elementary, junior and high schools to help me navigate crowded hallways and carry books.

I even had PAs up until the pandemic hit, and then the world shut down.

My PAs were all college students, and they were gone indefinitely. 

I had three options:

Stay with my parents for the duration of the pandemic;

Scramble to find any human being who would help me;

Forge ahead independently without any PAs.

I chose option 3, perhaps the riskiest of the three options.

While I had no help, I did have athlete friends with disabilities who led independent lives. 

They didn’t have PAs, and it seemed, with my increasing strength, I didn’t need PAs, either.

When I did have PAs, I carefully tested my strength and independence.

Could I cook without burning my home down? Yes.

Could I do laundry independently? Yes.

Could I transfer into the shower independently? Yes.

Turns out, I didn’t need PAs at all.

While this Is not universal for all persons with disabilities, it is one dose of a small, yet large achievement anybody with a disability has.

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A Message on Ryan’s Gratitude for Life

An open space with tables and chairs.

By Ryan Wilson

Team Trust

Recently, I came across this picture.

I haven’t seen it since I was in the hospital last year.

I believe my mom took this photo to show me what the cafeteria area of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital looked like.

I had been in the ICU there for a few days.

I had fallen out of my wheelchair, and needed surgery.

The surgery took a turn for the worse, and I was unconscious for three days.

Once I came to, I was looking for the outside world.

When I first ventured to this cafeteria (in the picture), I vividly remember two things: watching a man helping a little girl (presumably his daughter) and a fish tank.

The little girl was in a hot pink manual wheelchair. Her chair was shaped similar to one of my manual chairs, and it, just like hers, gives off the hospital-wheelchair vibe.

I remember seeing this girl, thinking of all the athlete-friends I have in wheelchairs, and, of course, feeling deeply grateful for all those who have helped me.

As my parents grabbed my food, I sat alone at the table, under a cluster of drugs, and with no functioning limb.

I thought to myself:

“What am I doing? So many disabled people have helped me. I need to make sure I help many disabled kids just like her.”

A few minutes earlier, the fish tank took my breath away.

It was remarkably colorful, and the fish, shimmying up, down and around a bright blue tank, looked so alive.

That, I admit, almost made me tear up.

I was — and still am — so grateful to be alive.

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Brands Need To Include Disability

Ryan Wilson was interviewed on the Enrollify podcast to discuss how and why brands need to include disability in their marketing.

Ryan discusses:

Easy ways to learn more about the disability community

Affordable methods to integrate disability into your current marketing plans and communications

Why building a relationship with the disability community is a win-win for everyone.

Listen to the interview: https://podcasts.enrollify.org/the-enrollify-podcast/ep-134-exploring-higher-eds-dei-marketing-gaps-why-universities-need-to-be-more-inclusive-of-the-disability-community

Access our free disability marketing guide.

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How Trust Is Life or Death For Persons with Disabilities

Ryan Wilson poses with two occupational therapists in a hospital room.

By Ryan Wilson,

Team Trust, CEO

I am led to believe some persons with disabilities might have a more critical take on trust.

There are times when we have to rely on people, even strangers, to help us with very personal tasks, and I think we are all probably well aware of the inherent risks of such a level of trust.

When I transitioned to college, I, truthfully, had not spent much time away from my parents.

My mom and dad were always by my side, making sure I was safe and secure.

That was not the case when I lived in a dorm.

Mom and dad were an hour and a half away, and I had to immediately learn how to tell complete strangers how to lift me out of my wheelchair.

If they dropped me, I could break many, many bones.

So it was kind of a life-or-death situation.

This is not a rare scenario for a portion of persons with disabilities, especially if you have fragile bones like I do, but it does open our eyes to what really matters:

Trust. Security. Safety.

If I don’t trust you, you aren’t lifting me.

And if you don’t trust you, you aren’t lifting me.

Regardless of how physically strong you are.

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Ryan: Why My Shaq-Sized Wish Changed

A young Ryan is pictured with Shaquille O'Neal

I grew up in the middle of central Illinois.

It seemed I was the only disabled kid in the entire county, although that is not statistically accurate.

I was a huge Shaquille O’Neal fan.

He was my guy, my hero.

Super big, relatable and kind of funny.

I watched every NBA game with Shaq, and I dreamt of playing alongside Shaq, winning NBA titles like never before.

But, as I watched his games, I saw something that dimmed my Shaq-sized dreams.

It was the commercials of kids who looked like me, and even had my disability.

They were always shown in hospitals, wrapped in bandages like a mummy, plugged into a number of devices, and surrounded by friends and family as if the end was near.

Honestly, I know what it’s like to be that kid in the hospital

I did not need or want to see reminders of my days in the hospital.

Rather, what I needed as a kid was to see kids who looked like me living the dream I had.

Playing basketball.

And winning.

After developing personal relationships with many Paralympic athletes in the U.S. and around the world, I realized disabled people can play basketball, and we can win a lot.

A woman is shown pushing her black wheelchair racing chair.
When I spent time with Paralympic athletes, like Amanda McGrory (shown), my perspective on my own dreams changed

That’s why I created Team Trust: to show — and prove — that disabled people, sure, endure some challenges, but we also have very, very awesome lives.

To learn why and how to easily integrate disability into your marketing, check out our free disability marketing guide.

Consumers want brands to show diversity in their ads.

Diversity includes disability.

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This Video Means A lot To Me. I hope it does to you, too.

By Ryan Wilson, Director

Feb. 26, 2022

Every video we produce is special. The stories we hear and tell are magical.

I feel grateful to be in a position of listening to people, and validating their experiences.

We recently had the honor of telling a rather personal story to me. It is the story of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. The OIF helps support ground-breaking and even life-changing research for persons living with Osteogenesis Imperfecta like myself.

OI, as it’s commonly called, is a condition that causes one to have brittle bones. In other words, we — well, I — break a lot of bones.

I have broken 50 to 60 bones, in fact.

In our video for the OIF, we highlighted the organization’s long-standing commitment to support ground-breaking research for persons with OI.

The OIF often also brings together the community of us OI-ers for a number of events.

This connecting and learning from others is particularly important for anyone in the disability community.

Even with the tremendous amounts of information we can access online, persons with disabilities may not find that one resource that or person who will change their lives.

But … the OIF makes it so much easier.

If you would like a similar story told about your organization, please reach out.

We are here for you.

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Our Cost Is Your Command.

A group of men and women posing for a photo

By Team Trust

12.10.2021

Pricing is always top of mind for our clients for our clients. We get it.

When we are meeting with new clients, we always ask, “What can you afford? What have you budgeted for?”

Our primary goal is to help our clients. Sure, money matters, but it is not more important than our desire to help.

We want to meet our clients where they are, and what they can do.

Do you have an idea you’d like to discuss? Send us an email here.

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Happy Thanksgiving From Team Trust

A black and white photo of two individuals in winter jackets strapped GoPro cameras on two skiers at the Winter Park Resort in Winter Park, Co.

Hello everyone.

I hope you all are well. This is Ryan Wilson, director of Team Trust.


I wanted to personally thank each of you for helping Team Trust reach our current heights. Whether you helped us with a shoot or we helped you tell your story, we are very grateful … for each of you. I personally hope we made a difference in your lives in some way, shape or form this year. Each of you have done the same for me and our Team.


Interestingly, Team Trust started to take off after I regained consciousness earlier this year (https://teamtrustproductions.com/little-things/). That, I must admit, was unexpected, but it gave me many reasons to unplug — ahem, escape — from all those IVs as quickly and, sure, safely as possible.


Enjoy your day and family.

Reach out if we can ever be of any assistance, even if that’s buying you pizza. (We’ve got tasty connections!)R