Sandra Longo was young when she became committed and passionate about disabled individuals who live their lives wheelchair-bound — when she was only 9 years old, her mother became a complete Paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury. With encouragement from family, friends and neighbours, Sandra started Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities in 2016, a charity which donates portable wheelchair ramps to individuals in need. Learn more about what inspired her current endeavour, and how she stays motivated for the future.
My first job ever was… At a large Garden Center/Craft and Hobby Store. This job began to open my young and narrow views of the world. I enjoyed the idea that people were all different, and each individual who came into the store, came because they had different crafts and or hobbies that they were working on.
I started my venture because… I wanted to help people who were disabled and who used wheelchairs. When I was a young child my mother became a paraplegic and suddenly had to live life from a wheelchair. I learned first-hand what the consequences were when an individual was not free to live how they wanted to, especially when they were not included due to limited accessibility options. It creates an emotional scar that never goes away. I wanted to help stop the emotional pain for these individuals.
My proudest accomplishment is… My very first Race, a 10 kilometer race. That was easily one of the best moments of my life, because I never thought of myself as a trail blazer and this race was my very first personal achievement. When I crossed the finish line at that race, I cried like I had never cried before. You know the moment — that moment when you just realized that you exceeded your own expectations! That race changed who I told myself I was.
My boldest move to date was… Deciding that I was going to start a charity, when I didn’t have the slightest clue of how I was going to it but doing it anyway because it’s what I believe I was born to do.
I surprise people when I tell them… The experience my family has had with a slew of family tragedies, including when my mother became paralyzed in 1984, while giving birth to my youngest sister. In the decades that followed, it was these experiences that created my empathy for others, and inspired me to give back in some way. These events enabled me to gain a better understanding and to identify with with people who live with disabilities.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.
My best advice from a mentor was… Success leaves clues. Go figure out what someone who was successful did, and model it. Improve upon it, but learn their steps. They have knowledge, then it’s up to you to become resourceful and to take massive action.
“Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.”
My biggest setback was… Breaking my own limitations of what I thought was possible for me to achieve. These thoughts were based on old restrictive beliefs, and the boundaries of what others thought I could achieve.
I overcame it by… Changing my focus. I realized that there is a powerful strength inside of me and every other human being, and I decided to focus on that instead.
Work/life balance is… Getting up early. I have realized how to maximize my day by making the most of the hours I have in a day.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I love green smoothies, for their ability to be so nutrient dense. They help fuel my body with nutrients, they help my skin glow, my eyes to be brighter, and they give me continuous resilient energy.
I stay inspired by… Being mindful of what I focus on.
The future excites me because… I am so excited about the future of Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities.
My next step is… Growing awareness for Navy Street Charity, donating portable wheelchair ramps to individuals who are disabled and wheelchair bound throughout Ontario; and on a personal endeavour, a book is in the pipeline…stay tuned.