Cast Blog: #RHONY

A Second Chance

Aviva shares how she got involved with One Step Ahead and how she hopes she can inspire young amputees.

Not many of us get a second chance. I did. I find my obligation now is, at the very least, to impart to other amputees the ease with which I find wearing a prosthesis.

In 2007, I met Amy Palmiero-Winters, mother of two, elite athlete, founder of the One Step Ahead Foundation and also an amputee. We met through our prosthetist Erik Schaffer. His talent, compassion, and dedication to creating the best prosthetics brought us together. Before Amy's accident she was passionate about running and riding motorcycles. One day while off from college she was riding her motorcycle and got hit by a car. She would not allow doctors to amputate her limb because of her passion for running. It was when Amy's friend said to her, "It's only a leg. It's not who you are," that Amy courageously amputated her leg. What truthful words her friend spoke. Today, Amy is an award winning renowned athlete.

With Amy, I found someone with the same perspective and attitude as myself, with the drive and passion to help other children gain the confidence to overcome any obstacle and follow their dreams. Although different, Amy and I were coming together for the same goal: making a difference in the lives of children with limb loss. Children who often pull away from fitness, socializing and living life to the fullest due to amputations.

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While Amy spearheaded the physical fitness and athletic part of One Step Ahead, I would help children and teens navigate the emotional and social bumps they would endure. Amy was the athletic role model, while I was the Auntie Mame type.

Some of the children you see in this episode are Victoria, Tara, Jake, and James. They were just a few of the children I have had the opportunity to work with and watch grow through the experiences the foundation has given them.

Victoria is a beautiful 18-year-old girl setting out on her first year of college who lost her leg above the knee at birth when delivery for her and her twin sister became complicated. For Victoria, creating a cosmetic prosthesis with an adjustable ankle is a main focus for her.

Tara is an eight-year-old little girl full of fire and never ending energy. She was born with a heart defect and due to complications had her leg amputated when she was only months old. Tara is full of life and as an active young girl wants to play in the sand and run in the ocean waves. A swimming leg certainly is helpful.

James, a 13-month-old twin with such kind sweet eyes, only wants his Nemo patterned prosthesis back on so he can chase after his brother.

Jake is a 10-year-old twin who lost both legs above the knee at birth. Jake has courage, determination, and the willingness to try everything. For the first time in 10 years Jake was able to run with custom-made running prosthetics fabricated by Erik Schaffer. If that scene touched your heart this week, you get it.

Another piece of the One Step Ahead foundation is raising funds for prosthetic limbs. Insurance companies are so very different with-in their policy guidelines. Prosthetics sometimes are not seen as a medical necessity, therefore insurance does not always pay for them. Some allow for one per lifetime, some allow based upon medical necessity, some provide one per year, some do not cover prosthetics at all. Erik Schaffer has created a team focused on helping educate and fight for the patients rights and futures. Depending on the type of prosthesis and components they can have, price tags range from $25,000 to $100,000 and beyond.

Most children need a new prosthetic one to two times per year depending upon their speed of growth and activity levels. One Step Ahead raises money for children who need prosthetics that insurance won't pay for. It is a god given right to run as a child. If running legs are what's needed, we try to make them available for kids who cannot afford them. Teenage girls should be able to wear high heels if they choose. Teen years are a formative time where self esteem and confidence are built. Whatever the need: athletic environments, cosmetically pretty limbs, running legs, skiing legs, or swimming limbs -- the money raised with One Step Ahead helps children and teens to receive them.

Our goal is to help disadvantaged children become advantaged and give them the experiences to help better define themselves, before allowing anyone to define them., as well as to create a stronger sense of self confidence that cannot be taken away. We want them to grow to be strong, happy, and to learn that when they reach their limit they can dig deep and give more!

I thank Bravo for capturing and viewing what has always been important to me and our community. I could never have reached a fraction of the amputees and the physically challenged that I do without this show and its viewers. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Also thanks so much to SoulCycle and Stacey Griffith for donating their space and time to One Step Ahead.

For more information on One step Ahead and to make donations, go to OneStepAheadFoundation.org

Carole on Elitists and Bitches

Carole says what she really thinks of Aviva and all of her talk about her book and things being "ghetto."

Dear Fans,

Let me start with something I stole it from Twitter this week. "The most dangerous liars are those who think they are telling the truth."

I'll say it again. The blonde at the end of the right couch, the one who's prone to lobbing limbs and insults, is an Insulting. Bitch. Some of you didn't believe me. Maybe some of you still don't. But after watching the reunion shows I imagine it's harder and harder to cheer for the anti-hero. Just when you think she can't get any faker she does.

The story according to Aviva makes me laugh: We were arguing, she insulted me, I called her a psychopath and that prompted her to affectionately compliment me on my age. Sure. Her disdain for the intelligence of the audience is palpable. It was too stupid for me to even reply. But as I was watching the reunion, and particularly Aviva and the way she treats people, I was reminded of something my Grandma Millie used to say. (I love everything Grandma Millie used to say.) "At 25, you have the face you're born with. At 45 you have the face you deserve."

I'd rather be 50 and me than be 45 and Aviva, any day of the week. She aged worse this season than a president in his first term. Holy short dress, I don't mind at all how I look. Overbite and all. I'll take it.

When I first met Aviva she was lovely. Really lovely. I meant what I said on the couch, I wish we had seen more of that. Her easy laugh and funny neurotic ways. Instead all we saw was a mean and angry woman. All because I asked her if she hired a writer -- a writer she did hire. It makes no sense. Three years ago she told me she'd read my memoir, What Remains. This was a book published in 2006 about my childhood, my family, my career and marriage, and then the death of my husband, Anthony Radziwill. A man I loved more than anyone I had loved before or have loved since. She gushed over my book. She quoted from it. We hugged. She seemed so sincere. Flash forward and she now believes it was written by a ghostwriter. She even knew his name, and it wasn't Truman Capote. It was Bill Whitworth, she told me. She repeated this over and over to anyone who would listen. And it doesn't matter how many times she repeats it -- it will never make it true.

When they stopped listening she started saying in the press and on social media that not only was my book written by someone else but that it was not my place to have written a book about my life, and my marriage. And, as if I didn't remember, she reminded me that I'd written about people who had died. Um, yeah. I know. It was my husband and my family and my closest friend who died. Just. . .wow. But I wasn't important enough to tell my story because my husband's family was famous, or historic or whatever she said. Because they had money and privilege and yachts. Really. Who do I think I am?

I’ll tell you. I’m a girl from upstate New York who grew up in a loving, if sometimes kooky, Italian working class family. I worked for everything I earned, just like my parents did and their parents before them. I have a proud family history of hard work and small but precious rewards that followed. My family won't be in any history books. I didn't grow up privileged. We didn't spend summers in Europe or Christmas in Palm Beach. A day spent at the town pool or playing in the woods behind our house was great. Much like Heather, I was taught strong values and decent manners. I learned to live with integrity and honesty. I'm proud of my upbringing and the woman I became, as was my husband. As is his family to this very day. I've known people who lived in what Aviva would consider the "ghetto" who have more class and decency than she shows.

All this talk about class and ghetto -- you'd think we were living in communist Russia. Here is the thing. This is America. In our country it doesn't matter a lick where you are from, it only matters where you're going. So don’t let anyone tell you that you aren't good enough because you didn’t grow up on Park Avenue or in a family that had some history, or because you enjoy saying mother-f---er now and then. I’ve met people from all walks of life. I spent time in refugee camps in Southeast Asia, and in the projects of Chicago. I've been to State dinners with Presidents. I met the Queen of England on a beach in Anguilla. No one is any more valuable or important than you are. No one is more important than your family and your friends.

Let the elitists go slow into the night.

In spite of the BookGate dust up I had a great time this season. I made wonderful new friends in LuAnn and Kristen and my friendship with Heather is more special and important to me than I could have ever imagined just three years ago. Friends have each other's backs. I love her, madly. And while we didn't always act appropriately, we had a lot of laughs. I hope you did too.

Thank you all for your supportive and funny and brilliant tweets. And while we didn't all agree on everything all of the time I enjoyed your participation in the show. Even the mean tweets about my skinny neck and my overbite were amusing. Like I said, I've stolen some tweets already. You may see others as dialogue in my next book, and yes, you can all say you were my ghostwriters.

As always,

With love, Writer Girl xoxo

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