Logan Olson
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Logan Olson ABILITY Jobs

My life is totally different,” said Logan Olson. Let us compare and contrast, shall we?

Today, at 23, she’s a magazine publisher and a young woman on a mission to sprinkle inspiration into the lives of others. But just seven years ago, she was at death’s door, knocking vigorously.

It all started when Olson was born with a faulty ticker. Then, at 16, she had surgery to replace one of her heart valves, which doctors took from a pig. (“Oink, oink,” Logan jokes.) But six months later, the laughter faded when, on Halloween night 2001, she collapsed from a heart attack. If that wasn’t scary enough, she quickly lasped into a coma.

“That first night, I was hyperventilating in the Intensive Care Unit,” says her mom, Laurie. “I was terrified that I was watching my daughter die before my eyes.” The staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA, cautioned Logan’s family that coming out of a coma is quite different from the soap opera version, where a character flutters her eyes, mumbles a few words, and then miraculously snaps out of it.

The staff was right: When Logan started to wake after three weeks in the twilight zone, her mom noticed a remarkable difference from the teenage daughter of just a few weeks earlier: “She had sustained quite the brain injury,” Laurie recalls, “she was like an infant.” Although given CPR following the heart attack, Logan still went without oxygen for several critical moments.

She remembers none of this.

As for those missing three weeks, she says, “I wasn’t there.” Lasting symptoms of the damage to her brain include short-term memory loss, difficulty with fine-motor skills and lack of balance.

It all seemed so sudden: One day, she was driving to the mall, shopping for chic bargains, and keeping up her reputation as a trend-setting fashionista. The next she was in a hospital bed, unable to move a single muscle. During one early rehabilitation session, her therapists gathered around her yelling: “Hold your head up!” That act, alone, would have been considered great progress.

Logan’s mom won’t soon forget watching that harrowing scene: “I was thinking Oh my God, is she ever going to sit up again? Then I saw that she was fighting to pick her head up, fighting to stay alive, and I knew that if she was fighting that I would fight with her.”

Months earlier, Laurie had left her bookkeeping job with her husband’s business. With extra time on her hands, she was able to keep more of an eye on Logan’s younger brothers, TJ and David, while devoting greater focus to her daughter’s healing.

Logan stayed in the hospital for four months, and then entered rehabilitation for another four.
By then she had progressed to the point where she could move about with a walker, and could finally hang out at the mall again, checking out the cool clothes. But there’s only so much shopping that one can do, and she soon found herself sitting at home again, bored.

Desperate to get her groove back, she surfed the Internet and scoured local bookstores to find a magazine for girls like her, who had been zooming along when their lives jumped a track, and now they were inching along, navigating with a new disability.

When she came up empty handed, Logan began collaging and pasting together pages that would become the template for her magazine. “I’m still alive,” she told herself as she worked, but that wasn’t good enough. “How are you going to live?” she wondered. The answer, she discovered, was to be found in the pages of her new creation, Logan magazine—a combination of rehab, inspiration and, of course, head-turning fashion.

After two years, Logan was finally able to return to school. In her special education classes she showed her new project to classmates who were also dealing with disabilities. “I took in a prototype just for fun,” she says, “so they could see what I was working on.”

“They freaked out about Logan’s idea,” Laurie recalls, “and her special ed teacher was a little fashionista, too.”

Logan, however, wanted more input, so she pursued feedback from 10 other focus groups, all of whom gave her a thumbs up, convincing her that she had a product that would interest a wide range of people.

Her first case manager in the school system’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), however, had doubts, saying that Logan couldn’t possibly publish a magazine by herself.

“Nobody can,” Logan told her, aware that it would take a team. Although initiatially a bit defenseive, she can now admit that her case manager did have a point: “I wasn’t ready. I had a dream, but I needed a detailed plan.” Still, she wanted a case manager who was more supportive of her fledging dream, so she requested another one, and was placed with a gentleman named Gene, who not only told her how to get a self-employment plan approved, but also set her up with a business plan coach.

It took eight months for Laurie and Logan to complete their business plan, with her new case manager not only providing encouragement, but also offering funding to help launch the publication.

The prospect of starting a new publication and keeping it going, however, proved a source of great trepidation for the two Olson women. They experienced…

Fear of failure.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of the unknown.

“We had to do something besides be afraid,” Laurie says, “So we picked up the phone and made cold calls to people I thought might be able to help. Now Logan has a whole team around her.”

One supporter turned out to be the principal of a Spokane, WA-based design firm. “This is my idea,” Logan told the designer when they met for the first time. “I was looking for this magazine, and it wasn’t there, so I want to create it. Would you help us?’’ Logan recalls the woman saying, “Oh my gosh. I’m in! I’m in.”

So a high-octane, graphic design firm built Logan’s colorful website, gave the 16-page magazine mock-up a more professional look, and continues to shoot the cover every month, which features Logan looking, as you might expect, fashionable.

The young publisher offers her readers reassurance that they are not alone, a feeling she longed for when she first came home from the hospital. “I wanted to hear some honest stuff about people’s journeys,” she says. “How they were doing; what they were doing.”

The publication’s writers have their own stories to tell. They include Adam Membrey, who is deaf, and Joy Carlsen, who, because of cerebellum challenges, sometimes types with a split keyboard while lying down. The team profiles such subjects as Paralympian Mark Zupan, who acquired a spinal cord injury; Microsoft executive Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who is deaf; and champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm in a shark attack. Regular features include the One of the Guys’ column, about a young man with a disability; Cheap Chic fashions; Must-Have Products, which recently included a Talking First-Aid Kit, and Speed Laces, which allow a pair of shoes to be slipped on and off without bending or tying.

Logan’s family pitches in to help her. In addition to her mother, who is co-founder and editorial director, her dad is her bodyguard and chauffeur. “He also makes phone calls,” she says, while Logan’s grandmother researches recipes for each issue..... continued in ABILITY Magazine

ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Scott Hamilton issue include Senator Harkin — Updating the ADA; Headlines — Best Buddies, Diamonds in the Raw; Humor — Unfortunately, It’s All About Diet & Exercise; Best Practices — Microsoft; Managing Pain — Latest Techniques; DRLC — Good News For Vets; National Institutes of Health — Cool Research; Neil Romano — Assistant Secretary of Labor (Part 2); ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences...subscribe

More excerpts from the Scott Hamilton issue:

Scott Hamilton — Can’t Keep A Good Man Down

Logan — The Woman, The Magazine

Motorcycle Vets — Speeding Into The Danger Zone

Childhood Obesity — The Skinny on a Big, Fat Problem

Brain Tumors — From A to Z

Senator Harkin — Updating the ADA

Humor — Unfortunately, Itís All About Diet & Exercise

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