Danny Pitaluga-ROLL Model
Danny (Daniel) Pitaluga is a quadriplegic, but he’s more than that. Danny is energetic, competitive, but above all, optimistic.
Two years ago Danny suffered a broken neck in an automobile accident, but that hasn’t slowed him down. In fact, he’s been busy since the accident tackling new experiences such as playing billiards, kayaking, bowling, fishing, swimming and even completing three 26.2-mile marathons. “The marathons were fantastic,” says Danny. “As you cross the finish line with dead-heavy arms, there’s a sense of accomplishment you feel that absolutely no one can take away.”
Danny’s latest sport is quad rugby. “This sport captured my heart and energy while reviving my competitive spirit to be the best, exceed and win,” said Danny. “I am dedicated to becoming a great player and although the goal will be difficult, I am striving to one day play for TEAM USA.” He recommends checking out a great documentary on the sport called Murderball; a movie trailer can be seen on YouTube.
Other aspects of Danny’s life have changed since his accident, presenting all new experiences. When he returned to school 18 months ago he had lost all his scholarships and had a 2.4 college GPA. But now, with time, hard work and dedication, he has raised his GPA to 3.0.
Danny gets to school in his own car equipped with hand controls. And he’s not just going to school, but traveling to other cities from his South Florida home, such as Key West, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach. Danny says driving again was the ultimate freedom achievement.
Another change in Danny’s life occurred around Christmas of 2010. He received a text just telling him “Hi” from an unknown number. This started a conversation, which led to several dates, which led to the loving girlfriend he has today. “She helps me with practically everything,” he says. “I've found a real friend in her and I’m glad to have her in my life.” His girlfriend currently studies at New York University (NYU) in New York City and that led Danny to his next big opportunity.
On Valentines Day, 2011, he took his first flight as a quadriplegic—to New York City. “I conquered the city of New York in a way I thought I never could to visit the girl who wins me over everyday,” he said fondly. “The trip for me was ground breaking and opened new doors, enabling me to go out and take on the world one city at a time.”
The latest, and a very different, experience for Danny has been as a model for a new line of clothing designed specifically for wheelchair users. Rollin’ Wear contacted him to participate in a photo shoot wearing the company’s latest t-shirts, hats and adaptive jeans. “The pictures came out amazing, especially since they let me include my girlfriend in a few of them,” he said. “This is my favorite photo from the shoot.”Danny packs a lot into his life by way of optimism, enthusiasm and eagerness for new experiences. “I have realized that I’ve done as much in a chair as I have done as a walking person. So many doors have opened for me and it's exciting learning new things every day,” explains Danny. “There has been new opportunities opening up for treatments to cure my paralysis, but I have to first raise the money before I can even consider these options. I'll be setting up a fundraiser soon to move along my recovery and make this the best testimony ever!”