BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — An aspiring model from Baton Rouge, paralyzed from the waist down, hopes to turn her pain and suffering into inspiration for others.
Diamond Jonise has been modeling since she was 15. Her dream is to walk the runway in New York City.
On Sept. 8, Jonise and a large group of friends decided to celebrate her 23rd birthday by traveling to New York for Fashion Week in an RV.
Jonise was asleep when their vehicle collided with the back of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 66. The impact caused the RV to run off the interstate, through a guardrail, down an embankment and drop 40 feet into several trees, according to the Virginia State Police.
The police say the driver of the RV, Ifreke Inyang, 25, sustained minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.
Inyang was charged with reckless driving and driving without a valid operator’s license.
Two friends were pronounced dead at the scene and Jonise woke up from the hospital confused as to what happened.
“I was kind of just numb,” Jonise said. “I just woke up and my legs weren’t working.”
The doctors told her she suffered several injuries including a broken back which caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down.
“I’ve been told I’m going to be in this chair for the rest of my life,” said Jonise. “Well, guess what I’m not accepting that.”
For the past six months, three times a week, she has been going to physical therapy in New Orleans.
After the accident, she got two tattoos representing the hardships she faced. One of those tattoos reminded her to hustle and stay humble. The other one shows her faith in God and finds a new purpose. That purpose is to share her “Road to Recovery” with her followers on social media and others like her to get up and keep going.
“I’ve learned to just roll with it,” she said. “That’s my purpose for sharing, just to let everyone know like, the ins and outs about disabilities.”
Jonise’s grandmother, known to her as her “GlamMa” is state Representative C. Denise Marcelle of District 61.
Marcelle has been helping with Jonise’s recovery every Tuesday by taking her to therapy. She admires Jonise’s positive attitude throughout her traumatic experience.
“I thought to myself ‘wow’,” Marcelle said. “We have raised an amazing young woman.”
On Valentines Day, Jonise did her first photoshoot since the accident. Marcelle and Jonise both believe that she will walk again permanently. The nerves in her hips are currently in the process of trying to wake up.
Since the accident, the family continues to thank the Baton Rouge community for their support.
Jonise encourages her followers to watch her process of going through therapy. The best way to follow her is through social media.
As of right now, the stairs are still troubling for her to maneuver. However, she is learning how to drive again with new hand pedals.
Donate towards Jonise’s recovery.