Beyond FORTITUDE: Teri Westerman of the Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League (PHAMALy)
Teri Westerman, one of the founders of PHAMALy, plays several roles in The Wiz. A wheelchair dancer since age 11, Westerman has exhibited many, many times her ability not only to step up to a challenge but to succeed beyond anyone’s expectations. A 2006 Volvo for Life award-winner, Westerman has performed and competed in a wheelchair for years and also teaches the intricacies of wheelchair dance. Square dancing, ballet, and ballroom are only a few of the styles she’s mastered; she competes internationally in ballroom.
But it’s through annual PHAMALy productions that Westerman’s continued impact on the lives of local actors with disabilities is most obvious. As the Volvo for Life award site states, “By her actions, her achievements, and her enthusiasm, she inspires people everywhere to go beyond their limitations.” I’d add that Teri Westerman inspires us all to look beyond perceived limitations of others to appreciate all they have to offer, on and off the public stage.