Sink or Swim: Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Ryan Rae Harbuck-

When we find ourselves plucked out of our reality with a sudden and tragic event, we have to make that one important decision – to sink or swim. 

Today we learn the emotional and touching story of Ryan Rae Harbuck rising out of her vulnerabilities and finding her strengths. 

Ryan had to make that choice her junior year in high school after becoming paralyzed following a car accident. From healing her injuries to accepting to live her new life in a wheelchair, she learned the lesson that anything is possible. Turning her struggles into victories led her to discover the surprises life had for her.

Her life in a wheelchair helped her understand her purpose in a whole new way. Her power of perception opened a new world to her allowing her to live her life in an extraordinary way. Throughout everything she has experienced, she truly believes in joyfully following her given path. 

Ryan has turned her tragedy into triumph.

How we respond to the events in our life makes all the difference. 

Ryan went from a shy high school student to growing up fast after suffering a spinal cord injury from a car accident.

Her love of swimming saved her from sinking into the deep and brought her all the love and light she has through a few special moments aligned just perfectly. She found that life had some big surprises in store for her.

“It has been so powerful for me, and I feel I am constantly thinking that had I not had my accident, had I not been paralyzed, had I not had these horrible things happen, I may never have had such a wonderful outlook on what life truly is.”

She became a teacher and a swim coach. She found her way to India for experimental stem cell treatment. She met the love of my life and three months after meeting they were married. She became a mom.

Her perspective of the world was both quite ordinary and extraordinary in the same breath. Every challenge has taught her so much about herself and about living. 

So, she wrote her memoir, “WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE A CHAIR”

For more information about Ryan or her book, visit her website at or follow the links in the episode description.

You can find her book “When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Chair” as well on Amazon. 

Her story on YouTube

Listen to this important episode to hear more.

How do you sail through life? Join me on this endeavor! I would love to grow this amazing support community!



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Published by Lorie

Hello and welcome to Sailing Through Life! My name is Lorie. I am a 2-time melanoma cancer survivor and a sailor - in my heart and on the water. I want to be a beacon of light to others with life challenges and be an inspiration to stay positive while going through these life-altering events. Join me as I set sail on this new adventure... Sailing Through Life.

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