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25 Portraits, Deborah Aschheim

Deborah Aschheim works with communities to create drawings and stories connecting people and places.  For the UPMC Mercy Pavilion commission, the artist spent 2022 getting to know UPMC Mercy Pavilion peer counselors, patients, caregivers, and providers. Through this engagement she created portraits of members of UPMC’s dynamic vision and rehabilitation community. 

People graciously welcomed the artist into their lives to experience their families, homes, workplaces, sports, and hobbies.

Check back to learn the individuals’ stories, the things they love, and the resources they recommend to others. Many of the 25 portraits and stories will be posted here throughout 2023. 

View the portrait image gallery

25 Portraits

Tom Antolic

Tom sits outside on a deck in his wheelchair with several medals around his neck.

Tom Antolic began participating in adaptive sports following a snowboarding accident and credits handcycling for bringing out his competitive side.

Read Tom Antolic's story

Linda Cetra

Linda stands in front of a fireplace wearing a blue apron with red pockets.

Linda Cetra was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes the optic nerve to break down and leads to vision loss.

Read Linda Cetra's story

Dana Aravich

Dana Aravich holds her young son on her shoulders.

Occupational therapist Dana Aravich lives with low vision and is passionate about advocating for inclusion and representation in the health care industry.

Read Dana Aravich's story

Patty Azocar

Patty Azocar lives with Stargardt disease, which causes vision loss. She uses adaptive equipment to keep her independence.

Patty Azocar lives with Stargardt disease, which causes vision loss. She uses adaptive equipment to keep her independence.

Read Patty Azocar's story

Chelsi Figley

Chelsi Figley sits in a wheelchair and holds a dumbbell over her head.

Chelsi Figley competes internationally in powerlifting, which has allowed her to consider perspectives and ways of life other than her own.

Read Chelsi Figley's story

Cheyenne Hennen

Cheyenne Hennen holds a miniature Volkswagen bus in her right hand.

Penn State graduate Cheyenne Hennen is passionate about providing equitable resources for underrepresented populations.

Read Cheyenne Hennen's story

Sara Izzo

Sara stands outside in front of a yellow bridge.

Sara Izzo is a wife and health care worker who was born with spina bifida.

Read Sara Izzo's story

Laurie Kocan

Laurie sits in her wheelchair in front of a background of blue snowflakes.

Graphic designer Laurie Kocan was born with spina bifida and mentors others with the same condition.

Read Laurie Kocan's story

Deidre Marie LaSalvia

Deidre LaSalvia sits in a chair with her black and white border collie.

Deidre LaSalvia underwent her first hospitalization and surgery for spina bifida at age three. She sought a career in health care because of her personal experiences.

Read Deidre Marie LaSalvia's story

Adrian Luther

Adrian Luther sits in a wheelchair in front of a leafy green background.

Adrian Luther’s personal experiences with mental health – both before and after a car accident that changed her life – led her to study psychology.

Read Adrian Luther's story

Jackson MacTaggart

Jackson sits in a boat holding the oars and smiling.

Jackson MacTaggart sustained a spinal cord injury during a diving accident in 2016 but didn’t let it stop him from pursuing a career as a physic professor.

Read Jackson MacTaggart's story

Kevin Mannon

Kevin sits in a wicker chair, leaning forward with his arms around his dog.

Kevin Mannon lost both legs in an accident and worked through extensive rehabilitation to regain his independence.

Read Kevin Mannon's story

Bryan McCormick

Bryan sits in a wheelchair front of an orange wall.

Vocational rehabilitation counselor and artist Bryan McCormick sustained a spinal cord injury in a skiing accident. He now enjoys adaptive sports and paints and draws every day.

Read Bryan McCormick's story

Dan McCoy

Dan McCoy sits in a wheelchair in front of a green background.

Personal trainer Dan McCoy was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. In 2014, he won a gold medal for sled hockey as a member of Team USA in the Paralympic Games.

Read Dan McCoy's story

Shirley Nedzesky

Shirley Nedzesky sits in a wheelchair in front of a table and stove with a black cat on her lap.

Shirley Nedzesky lives with multiple sclerosis and feels she’s in better shape now because of virtual reality and PT exercises.

Read Shirley Nedzesky's story

Katie Smith

Katie sits on a beach wearing a red dress, smiling in her wheelchair.

Katie Smith was an accomplished athlete and advocate for women with disabilities.

Read Katie Smith's story

Monica Albert Still

Monica Albert Sill, seated in a wheelchair, checks a patient’s heartbeat.

Nurse Monica Albert Sill was born with spina bifida and never let her disability stop her from pursuing her goals.

Read Monica Albert Still's story

Libby Powers

Libby Powers sits in a wheelchair wearing a blue patterned blouse and holding a microphone.

Product coordinator Libby Powers has spent the past 25 years working and volunteering in health care and cross-disability organizations.

Read Libby Powers's story

Jared Quinteros

Jared Quinteros sits in a wheelchair with his sones, Oliver and Owen, standing behind him and smiling.

Jared Quinteros lost his beloved wife, Kara Leo, in a hiking accident that also resulted in his own spinal cord injury. He turned to art as a creative outlet to deal with his grief.

Read Jared Quinteros's story

Andy Reese

Andy Reese sits in a wheelchair and receives a kiss on the cheek from his wife.

Andy Reese experienced a spinal cord injury that changed his life. He and his wife Courtney now spend their time educating others about spinal cord injuries.

Read Andy Reese's story

Aaron Spang

A man swings a golf club.

Aaron Spang had a rare type of stroke that affected his sight and he now lives with low vision.

Read Aaron Spang's story

Mark Teahan

Mark stands in his kitchen with pots, bowls, and bottles in front of him.

A stroke impacted Mark Teahan’s vision, but low vision rehabilitation helped him regain self-reliance.

Read Mark Teahan's story

Lee Tempest

Lee Tempest sits in a wheelchair holding a basketball on his lap.

Spinal cord research study coordinator Lee Tempest has competed in wheelchair basketball for 25 years and is passionate about adaptive sports.

Read Lee Tempest's story

Victoria Verrico

Victoria Verrico sits in a wheelchair in a garden looking at her phone.

Victoria Verrico is an avid reader who recently returned to college to study English literature.

Read Victoria Verrico's story

LaTisha Willis

LaTisha Willis stands in front of her grey car.

LaTisha Willis was born with Albinism and didn’t let her vision loss keep her from her goal of learning to drive.

Read LaTisha Willis's story