Year in review: One step backward leads to lifetime looking forwardNo. 6: Tasha Schuh may have to use a wheelchair, but that certainly isn’t slowing her down.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Tasha Schuh may have to use a wheelchair, but that certainly isn’t slowing her down.
Since being crowned Miss Wheelchair USA in July, the Ellsworth resident has been moving full speed ahead with everything from her career to her personal life.
That’s not to say she didn’t keep busy beforehand. Schuh began motivating, inspiring and speaking to crowds on a regular basis after an incident in 1997 changed her life forever.
As an Ellsworth High School student, Schuh took one step backward during a scene change for a school musical and dropped through the open trap door at Red Wing’s Sheldon Theatre. She fell 16 feet onto a cement floor and became a quadriplegic.
The accident initially left Schuh discouraged, but she accepted her condition and used her story as a way to inspire others. Since becoming the reigning Miss Wheelchair USA, however, she’s been inspiring more people than ever before.
“A lot more speaking engagements have opened up because of the title,” Schuh said.
The Miss Wheelchair USA organization also has given her more opportunities to travel and, although it’s technically for work, Schuh said she doesn’t mind.
“I love speaking so much and it is my passion, so it’s hard to call it work,” she said.
In addition to telling her empowering story through various talks, Schuh has been putting it in writing for the past couple of years. All of that work recently culminated in the release of her first book, “My Last Step Backward,” which she said has been well-received.
“People are loving it and saying they can’t put it down,” Schuh said. “It shows me that it was meant to be written, and I’m just so glad because in speaking it’s just impossible for me to share my whole story. Here I’m able to share my story even more and in such a detailed way.”
The book, which can be purchased at www.tashaschuh.com or www.amazon.com, is likely the first of several, Schuh said.
“My Last Step Backward” tells the story of how Schuh’s life changed in seconds on that stage. It concludes with where Schuh’s life was at in April 2012, meaning it doesn’t stretch far enough to put readers at the Miss Wheelchair USA competition over the summer.
“We had to cut it off somewhere,” Schuh said.
The book also doesn’t touch on Schuh’s most recent exciting news — her engagement.
While on a trip to Grand Marais, Minn., in October, Schuh’s boyfriend, Doug Drogorub, got down on one knee and popped the question. It happened about eight months after the couple started dating and now their wedding ceremony is less than that far away.
“We are counting down every day. I cannot wait,” Schuh said of Aug. 17, 2013.
While book signings and speaking engagements are consuming much of her time, and wedding planning takes up whatever is left over, Schuh said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“All these wonderful things that are happening just show me that the best is even still yet to come, and I’m so excited for what’s in store.”
Another Ellsworth native’s year was anything but ‘Grimm’
Tasha Schuh wasn’t the only Ellsworth resident to gain national attention this year.
Twenty-seven-year-old Reed Grimm began his rise to fame in January when he auditioned for the 11th season of Fox television’s “American Idol.”
Though thousands tried, Grimm was one of the lucky contestants to hear a panel of judges say, “You’re going to Hollywood.” It’s a phrase he hoped to hear several years ago when he first auditioned for the singing competition, but it wasn’t until his fifth attempt that the judges put him through.
“I said to him, ‘This is your time,’ when he was selected to go to Hollywood,” Grimm’s mom, Colleen Raye, said in February.
As Grimm continued to advance past each round of eliminations on the show, his friends and family members in Ellsworth would hold gatherings and parties to show their support.
It wasn’t until March 1 that Grimm gave his last performance on “American Idol.” The local star made it into the top 24 before being eliminated, and his lifelong background in music no doubt helped him get there.
Grimm began his musical career at the young age of 2 when he joined the rest of his family on stage, making up the group Genetic Energy. His talent for percussion came as early as sixth grade when the 12-year-old received his first drum set. Later years at Ellsworth High School brought musicals and jazz band performances before Grimm graduated and went on to major in percussion at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Grimm continues to make the most of his musical talents by performing as lead singer and percussionist for his band, Reed Grimm and the Shoeless Revolution. The group regularly schedules shows in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
As far as “American Idol” goes, Grimm said he’s thankful to have had the experience and can see that it’s already impacting his future.
“It is a new world,” he said the week after being eliminated. “I hope to take this exposure and grow from here. I want to produce something of good quality. Not just musically, but energetically and intentionally good.”