As she explains in this Q&A profile, Plano resident Marcela Maranon became paralyzed from the waist-down after a car accident in 2002.
When she realized that having such a disability deprives one of some of life’s most basic comforts, she dedicated her life to disability advocacy. This led to accomplishments such as her becoming the first disabled Latina woman to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, a nearly 20,000 foot-tall mountain in Tanzania. She documents her life to over 200,000 followers on TikTok, where she prolifically posts as a content creator.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What events in life brought you down the path of disability rights advocacy?
I was in a car accident when I was 20 years old in Dallas. I became paralyzed from the waist-down, I lost my left leg and I also lost my boyfriend.
I wanted to become a disability advocate because before my accident, I didn’t know anything about disabilities. My brain was programmed to use the parts of my body like any person without disabilities can do. I never struggled with going to a place and not being able to get in because it wasn’t wheelchair-accessible.
I decided to be an advocate, use my story, my disability and social media to start talking about that.
Besides Mt. Kilimanjaro, what are some of the most memorable trips you’ve been on?
I loved Israel because I loved when I went to see the Dead Sea. Israel is an amazing country. There’s a lot of wheelchair accessibility there.
Also, I love Spain. Spain is really good with wheelchair accessibility, especially when I traveled to Mallorca.
Another city was Nantes, France. It was really amazing to fly over the Alps of France.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
Despite of my disability, I am very happy with my life right now. Anything that I do that people think that is not possible is an accomplishment for me.
One of the achievements is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, traveling to [five of] the Seven Wonders of the World by myself [and] becoming a mom.
Are you a native Texan? (Where from?)
No, I am from Peru. I immigrated to Dallas in 2000, and my accident happened in 2002. I lived in Mesquite, but [I moved to] Plano back in 2007.
What are some of your favorite local restaurants?
I love Legacy Hall. That’s my favorite spot. All my girlfriends and I go there every weekend.
We go to Two Forks, we go to Lou’s [in Dallas], Mas Amor Por Favor…
What are your go-to comfort movies and TV shows?
I don’t watch a lot of TV because really, my life is always social media. I am a content creator, so I always have to be on social media watching other creators and seeing what I can come up [with]…
I like to watch Netflix. I’m not following any specific show right now. If I watch TV, which I never do, I log into Amazon Prime or Netflix.
Tell our readers about your family.
I have a 16 year old daughter, and I had her after my disability.
My mom and dad live in Frisco, my two brothers live in Plano and my sister lives in Los Angeles. Pretty much my whole family is here.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I think that it will be to be recognized as someone who tried to make a difference in the lives of disabled people. That’s very important to me because I am very blessed and privileged to live this life.
I want to show that they can also go after their dreams and the opportunities to be who they want to be. I hope that when people hear about me and see my story, they think that I was a woman who never gave up and, despite of her disability, was trying to help the disabled community as much as she can.