Van Arnem, Heidi.

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Heidi Van Arnem was born July 31, 1966. In 1983, at the age of 16, she was paralyzed after an accidental shooting; she was shot in the neck, severing her spinal cord. She became a quadriplegic. Van Arnem returned to school and was graduated from Lahser High School in 1985. She attended Oakland University, graduating in 1989, and enrolled in law school at University of Detroit. Because of her health, Ms. Van Arnem withdrew from law school and instead established her own travel agency business. Her company - Travel Headquarters - specialized in arranging travel for individuals with disabilities and other mobility issues, such as senior citizens. While operating Travel Headquarters, Ms. Van Arnem started the Heidi Van Arnem Foundation, a non-profit organization with the goal of curing paralysis. Through annual fundraisers, the Foundation raised $100,000 annually for spinal injury research.

In 1999, after selling Travel Headquarters, Van Arnem founded iCan, Inc., an online community for those with disabilities. iCan provided an avenue for advocacy and social networking, but also provided consulting services to corporations revising employment and accessibility policies after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.

Throughout the 1990s, Van Arnem wrote newspaper columns for Detroit-area papers. Open Roads (1992-1997) was a column carried by the Detroit Free Press and Disability Today (1997-2001) ran in the Detroit News. Both columns discussed disability rights issues from the perspective of as a person with disabilities and highlighted the challenges of navigating able-bodied society.

Van Arnem's other entrepreneurial activities include selling a device that more easily allows a caretaker to lift a disabled individual. The "Slinger" was invented by Van Arnem's mother, Karen Schram but was patented and marketed by Van Arnem on the iCan website.

Heidi Van Arnem died of respiratory failure on November 11, 2001 at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. She was 35.

From the guide to the Heidi Van Arnem papers, 1977-2003, 1994-2001, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Heidi Van Arnem papers, 1977-2003, 1994-2001 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith iCan, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Reeve, Christopher, 1952-2004 person
associatedWith Travel Headquarters (Corporation) corporateBody
associatedWith Wonder, Stevie. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Computers and people with disabilities


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