Why she’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: She breaks barriers and confronts adversity in her community and across the country.
If it wasn’t for the worst year of her life, Benveet (Bean) Gill wouldn’t be who she is today — an unwavering example of strength and resilience, working tirelessly to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
In her 20s, Gill was working as an X-ray technologist in a cardiac catherization lab. But, in 2012, when she turned 30, everything changed. She left an abusive relationship, her dad left her family and, during a trip to Las Vegas, a virus paralyzed her from the waist down.
“The first two years [in a wheelchair] were really hard… You feel like the world is against you, like the world isn’t designed for you and you aren’t welcome in this world,” she says.
Eventually, Gill found her confidence again and she began confronting her challenges. Small feats, like speaking up about an out-of-service elevator, led to major milestones, like opening ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre in 2017, the first neurologic recovery centre of its kind in Edmonton.
So far, Gill has fundraised more than $40,000 for ReYu, and the centre is up to 110 clients from the six it started with.
Gill’s work has earned her local and national recognition, including Global Edmonton’s Athlete MVP and Northlands K-Days Local Hero Award in 2017, Miss Wheelchair Canada in 2018 and a 2019 Global Woman of Vision Award.
As for why she’s determined to inspire change, to Gill it’s simple: “I’ve been given this voice, and people listen to me, so I’ve got to use it.”