Danielle Sheypuk, Ms. Wheelchair New York,is on a roll, hitting the clubs & challengingstereotypesPageant winner with a Ph.D wont let disability stop her from getting dolledup for datesBy Jason Stahl / NEW YORK DAILY NEWSPublished: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 5:56 PMUpdated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 6:00 AMYou’d think a pretty, blond pageant winner with a Ph.D. and a penchant for sky high heels andmini-dresses, would have an easy time finding love in New York.But add in a wheelchair and things get complicated.Still, Danielle Sheypuk, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, doesn’t let her disabilitykeep her from dating and hitting the clubs.“Not everyone is frumpy. We can have good haircuts, wear high heels and are sexy,” saidDanielle Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist who was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair New York.Sheypuk is in Ohio this week competing to become Ms. Wheelchair USA, using her tiara and herplatform, to change stereotypes.
Photos by Susan Watts/NYDN“People in wheelchairs are not portrayed as glamorous. Everyone assumes you’re asexual, oryou’re weak and dependent or unmasculine or unfeminine or undatable or not interested indating,” Sheypuk says.“We want to be in a relationship the same way anyone else wants to be.”And she’s already helping others live fuller lives.Sheypuk, 34, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, works at the Bensonhurst OutpatientClinic of South Beach Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, where she specializes in dating andrelationships for the disabled.Originally from Scranton, Pa., she moved to New York City in 2000 and earned her Ph.D. fromthe New School.The picture of New York chic, she looks equally fab in a short metallic Diane von Furstenbergdress and Chanel heels and then a bright pink BCBG dress with Brian Atwood stilettos.And she hits the town like any other single lady, heading out to upscale lounges and clubs likethe Boom Boom Room atop the Standard Hotel and PH-D at the Dream Downtown hotel.
“We like to get dressed up and go somewhere classy,” Sheypuk says.It’s not always easy, she admits.At one club, she says, she and her friends were told there wasn’t enough room for a wheelchair.A quick chat with the club’s manager rectified that — and they were in.But often, the chair actually helps.“We find it challenging to see if we can go and we might not have gotten in if I wasn’t in awheelchair,” she says. “Since they don’t expect to see someone in a wheelchair, [most places]say, ‘Sure, come up.’ It’s good to be out there to show people.”Sheypuk wants to use her own experiences — and her expertise as a psychologist — to breakdown stereotypes and stigmas about dating among the disabled.“It’s difficult, especially in adolescence, because it’s assumed they’re not going to be dating orhave sex or get married, so why talk to them,” she says. “It’s a tough stage.”After the pageant, Sheypuk is going to increase her advocacy “10-fold” to make New York Citywheelchair-friendly — from curb cuts to chair-friendly taxis.And, of course, she’ll keep looking for Mr. Right.When it comes to dating, she lives by the advice she gives to her patients.“Get out there and date and keep dating. That’s how these negative stereotypes will start to breakdown.”Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/danielle-sheypuk-ms-wheelchair-new-york-a-roll-hitting-clubs-challenging-stereotypes-article-1.1116447#ixzz20vMmNqWf