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All Different Directions – A New Book on Finding Purpose


Editor’s Note: The summer after finishing his college football career and graduating from the University of San Diego, Damien Minna took a much-deserved vacation with his family. The gap between student life and the working world was quickly closing. While on a boat soaking up the sun, Minna decided to jump into the lake to cool off. When his body hit the water, an awkward angle of contact resulted in a C4-C5 spinal cord injury. Instead of reporting to the new job he had lined up, he spent the next few weeks in the hospital recovering and learning about paralysis. Several years later, Minna is sharing his story and helping others find purpose through his new book, All Different Directions.

Damien Minna sits in his wheelchair wearing a baseball cap and black sunglasses.

Finding Perspective

Initially, while going through the emotional aspects of the injury, I considered it to be a nightmare. It was completely devastating. In relationship to what I understood life to be before I got hurt, I was being unplugged from everything. There was so much shock that I didn’t know what to do.

Over the years, dealing with my injury became a mental process. Interestingly, my experience overlays with life. As our bodies get older, we physically can no longer do the things we used to do, so we have to develop the mental strength and perspective that enables us to see the things we can do. This injury forced me into that. I had a very strong personality before the accident; I did whatever I wanted to do. Then, this injury said, “You’re going to sit down, and you’re going to figure this out.”

Some people try to avoid the inevitable, but others choose to become mentally stronger.

Finding Love

When I got hurt, finding love was one of my biggest worries. I didn’t know how or where to begin. I was so far out of my wheelhouse and very hurt and broken. I had a girlfriend at the time of my injury, but it didn’t work out.

Minna's hand with wedding band on wheelchair wheel.

A few years later, I was looking for a caregiver for weekend help. The ad I posted was quirky. I wanted to put myself out there entirely and wear my emotions on my sleeve. A woman replied with an amazing response. I didn’t usually hire women, but I had to meet this person. She came over with a bag of freshly baked cookies and her resume. I looked at her and said, “There’s no chance. I’m 6′, 200 lbs. You’re 5′.” She looked at me and said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. I’m mighty. Give me a shot.” I thought she was cute and crazy, so I went with it.

We eventually started liking each other. She came to me one day and told me she couldn’t accept my money anymore because it felt like we were almost dating. That sounded good to me because it meant I had extra money to spend on the weekends when she came out.

Our relationship happened organically. She was my friend first.

This woman is now my wife and a superhero. Heroes are the type of people that do things that everybody sees; they’re in the limelight. They’re the inspirational, motivational people.

But superheroes are the people who operate in the dark.

They’re the people who do the stuff behind the scenes and don’t get all the attention. They’re the ones completing the picture. That’s who my wife is.

Damien Minna and wife Rebecca on their wedding day. She is sitting in his lap.

Finding Purpose

I didn’t wake up one day and figure out my purpose. I desperately stumbled through getting over myself.

I thought I understood what happiness meant.

Then, I broke my neck, and I could no longer do any of the things I had equated with happiness. On top of that, the relationships with the people that helped me exercise my idea of happiness changed, and I realized I had to as well.

Damien Minna's shadow, sitting on a dock looking out to the ocean at sunset

My first thought was, “Get up out of the chair. Be the guy who recovers from a spinal cord injury. There’s your purpose.” I worked hard, and I had a great support system. They were the reasons I was able to receive so many different therapies, but I wasn’t getting better. So, I decided I would continue trying to walk, but I would also give back to the people who helped me by creating a wellness center. However, it wasn’t that simple, so I pulled away from that for a while.

Minna coaches two football players.

Then, I thought I needed to fulfill myself through something that had been surrounding me all along. So, I began dedicating my time to sports and started coaching football. Shortly after, a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Indonesia and see a Shaolin healer. So, I dropped everything and went to the eastern side of the world for three years.

Being detached from everything I’d come to know my entire life, whether it be in or out of a wheelchair, gave me the perspective to turn inward.

I started meditating, and at one point, something just clicked.

I realized the journey isn’t about anything going on outside of you; it’s on the inside. The more you work on the person on the inside, the more you’ll be able to give yourself outwardly.

Minna riding down a street in Bali in his wheelchair

The minute you find purpose, time stops, and life takes on a different meaning. It’s so significant to me that I’m over the fact that I have a spinal cord injury. It’s inconvenient, and I have to deal with it every day, but we all have difficulties to manage in life. I’m pushing toward doing something greater than my own drama.

With time away, mediation, and the healing I experienced in the East, I realized that through my situation, I have a special skill set, and my purpose is to be able to show people that by turning inward, they can see their true self. In doing so, they’ll understand what they need to do.

Everybody gets knocked down, and being able to understand how to get back up and continue moving forward is extremely critical.

I think you only develop that skill set if you’ve gone through it. I’d like to share that with people. My purpose is to inspire people by showing them themselves.

A Shaolin healer works on Minna's neck.

Finding My Voice

My whole life, I’d always wanted to write a book. I was caught up in myself, though, and never took the time to do it. In Indonesia, I began writing, and it served multiple purposes. The process of putting everything down was therapeutic and uncomfortable at the same time.

Seeing my story on paper and revisiting it was gut-wrenching.

Expressing myself emotionally, staying true to the story, and being both objective and subjective at the same time pushed me to my limits. But, I got through it, and I’m glad I did it. It helped me understand this whole experience.

Now that the book, All Different Directions, has been published, I think it will have its own value in each person’s life who reads it. I would like people to get out of it whatever it is that serves them in their life at the time. I want people to be entertained, but at the same time, be challenged by what I wrote. This could be anybody’s life. Nobody is exempt from having to deal with trauma.

I want people to read it, then look in the mirror and ask themselves how they will react to struggles in life.

I tried to write the book not about this poor wheelchair guy, but about any person who runs into adversity. You’re going to need to build a skill set, and honestly, you’ll probably fail before you succeed. It’s part of the process, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. You should realize that nobody ever bats 1000 in life.

It’s all about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and moving forward.

Damien Minna headshot with Need 2 Believe written

Editor’s Note: Minna’s book, All Different Directions, can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Apple Books. Connect with Minna on his website, Need2Believe.net, Facebook, and Instagram.

All information in this article was obtained by an interview and various forms of communication with Damien Minna.

About the Author

betsy-bailey-headshot

Betsy Bailey has a diverse background that includes experience in marketing research, business operations, travel and culinary writing, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.

Betsy has been writing for Wheel:Life since January of 2017 and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. She also practices parkour, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!

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Living with MS: One Family’s Solution to Enjoying Life Events Again

Dave was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and for the first ...

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4 Tips to Help Teach Your Child About Self-Catheterization

At a certain age, kids will be the first to tell you that they want ...

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Winter Weather Preparedness Tips for Wheelchair Users

Are you dreading this winter season? Dealing with slushy, icy, snowy, ...

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Making Adaptive Climbing More Accessible with Arthur Torrey

Editor’s Note: When a tree-cutting accident in 2010 led to broken ...

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Barbara Cramer – 75 Years of Defying Stereotypes

Editor’s Note:  An earlier version of this post may have left the ...

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Serving the Spina Bifida Community with the SBAGNE

I serve as the executive director of the SBAGNE. One of my primary ...

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Comfort Medical is Helping People to Achieve a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

If you’re an avid Wheel:Life reader, you may remember that we ...

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Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship at the Center for ...

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Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

Editor’s Note: A botched hernia operation during infancy left James ...

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Comfort Medical Sponsors Freedom Concepts to Help You Win An Adaptive Bike

Have you always dreamt of gliding down the street with the wind in ...

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Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

Days are becoming shorter, nights longer, and the holiday season is ...

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ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

Editor’s Note:  When wheelchair user Tony Jackson’s original ...

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Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra® Coude ...

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Get Ready for Rolling With Me’s Each By Name Conference

Wheel:Life, Comfort Medical, and Rolling With Me is excited to ...

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Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

Editor’s Note:  A Texas coast native, David Gaston has been in and ...

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Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

Summer is officially over and dreary winter weather is on its way. ...

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Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

When life-long dancer Beverly Weurding was diagnosed with limb-girdle ...

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Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

Editor’s Note: Justin Malaise grew up in small-town Wisconsin as a ...

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Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community

Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a ...

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Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

Editor’s Note: Sebastien Archambeaud has always loved traveling, so ...

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Made for Kids! The Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter + Free Backpack Program

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them ...

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Wheeling, Driving, Bowling, Preaching, Parenting…Johnny Hudson Does It All Hands-free!

Editor’s Note: Johnny Hudson was born in 1977 with unforeseen ...

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
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The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

Boston awaits with open arms. This September 8–10, head over to the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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WheelchairTravel.org: Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

Editor’s Note: After sustaining severe burns during a car accident ...

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The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: The Artfully Gifted Foundation (a non-profit) was ...

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How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

Editor’s Note: When triple degree holder Jose Gonzalez returned ...

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Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

Editor’s Note: Peter Arballo was born in Southern California to ...

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Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

Editor’s Note: Michael Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, started racing ...

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The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

Editor’s Note: Monica Vickers was born in 1954 missing both legs ...

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Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

When Rick Hayden visited the US Capitol last week, he went with your ...

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Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

Calling all Midwesterners — Abilities Expo is coming to Chicago! As ...

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Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

Editor’s Note: Clayton Frech is the CEO and founder of Los ...

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Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

Editor’s Note: Sled hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is almost ...

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL
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Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

Editor’s Note: Mary Marshall, founder of STYLEDWEL, created ...

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Following Your Inner Guidance with Kristina Rhoades and How National Ramp is Helping Her Do It

Editor’s Note: Kristina Rhoades is a mom, wife, speaker, writer, ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

My name is Allen Beauchamp, and I’m 43 years old. I live in a ...

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Yoocan Get Empowered!

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe ...

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Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra™ Intermittent ...

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Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

East coasters, or anyone within striking distance, gear up for ...

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Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

Editor’s note: Paul Brailer, aka Criptaedo, was born with spina ...

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Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

I’m currently 63 years old and live in Durham, North Carolina. ...

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Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

Editor’s Note: At 18 years old, Mallory Weggemann walked into the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Your New Normal After a Spinal Cord Injury

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

Editor’s note:  Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with ...

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Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

Editor’s Note: After selling his prior business, Garth Walker went ...

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The National Sports Center for the Disabled: Finding Self-Confidence through Personal Challenge

Editor’s Note: The National Sports Center for the Disabled, founded ...

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Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

Editor’s Note: Based in England, Susie Twydell, an avid traveler ...

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Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

Wheel:Life is thrilled to announce their newest community partner, ...

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Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a ...

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Comfort Conversations: Events, Free Packs, and More with James “Woody” Beckham

Editor’s Note: The Woody Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ...

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Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence: An Extra Long Cure Catheter

Jenn Sexton was five weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Thomas, ...

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Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

Editors note: As a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Glen ...

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Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

The Abilities Expo is back in Los Angeles and gearing up to show you ...

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Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: Juan Betancourt is on a path to change the world for ...

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AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

Editor’s note: Kerstin Beise, a German physiotherapist, who also ...

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A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

Editor’s note: Hydred Makabali, born and raised in England and now ...

Up/Down Team Champions (Top L to R) Shane Hayden, Harold Collins (Seated L to R) Gary Bowling, Kenneth Hill, and Don Law
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Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kenneth Hill from Plainfield, ...

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Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six-year-old Denise Horn of Janesville, ...

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Ashley Hutson Wilson Beat a Small Chance of Survival to Live a Full Life

Editor’s Note: Thirty-one year old Ashley Hutson Wilson from Kyle, ...

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Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

Editor’s Note: Mel Bergman of Camarillo, California, is the ...

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Gary “Tiger” Balletto: Champion Prize Fighter Who Rolls with the Punches

Editor’s Note: You can capture a ferocious wild tiger and put him ...

9 Robby Heisner
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Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

Editor’s Note: Robby Heisner of Smyrna, Georgia ...

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The National Rifle Association’s Adaptive Shooting Program with Dr. Joseph Logar

Dr. Joseph Logar Editor’s Note: Dr. Joseph Logar has his doctorate ...

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The Rollettes Take On an E.P.I.C. Project to Empower Others

Editor’s Note: Chances are, you’ve seen these ladies ...

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Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

Your window is narrowing to preserve access to mobility equipment – ...

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Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

Our friends at GRIT, the makers of the revolutionary Freedom Chair, ...

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Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

Editor’s Note: Serving our country as a military service member is ...

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Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ...

5 Tom Cannalonga
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Ditch Your Chair to Sit-Ski the Slopes with Tom Cannalonga 

Editor’s Note: Fifty-two-year-old Tom Cannalonga lives in Edison, ...

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Welcome to Wheel:Life

We are so glad you’re here! Wheel:Life is a global initiative ...

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