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Logan’s launch

Look out O, Elle and Jane. Logan the magazine is here.

From her wheelchair, 21-year-old Logan Olson smiles back from the glossy pages of the first issue of the new fashion and lifestyle magazine for young people with disabilities, aptly named after her.

After all, the Spokane woman is the inspiration and driving force behind the publication. More than two years in the making, the premier issue is set to hit newsstands this month, full of savvy advice, tools for independence, and stories of inspiration.

The words “Because Life is Always Beautiful” leap off the pink cover.

“I wanted to tell people it isn’t over yet; life is not over yet,” said Olson.

Olson was born with a congenital heart defect called pulmonary atresia, in which the heart valve that sends blood to the lungs is unformed or closed. By the age of 16, Olson had undergone six surgeries.

On Halloween 2001, just shy of her 17th birthday, she suffered a heart attack while visiting a Post Falls haunted house. Olson’s heart stopped, and the teen slipped into a weeks-long coma.

She suffered a brain injury that left her relearning the most basic functions.

“Walking, talking, eating, drinking, reading, writing, loving,” she quips now, her speech slightly slurred.

She couldn’t hold up her head, sit or stand. Her fine motor skills were impaired, preventing her from doing simple things like holding a pen or a toothbrush, buttoning a coat or brushing hair.

She lost her short-term memory and forgot she was a teen with a driver’s license, a boyfriend and a job. Olson, who had just returned from a church mission to Russia, thought she was 10. Even now, she may remember that a meeting occurred, but not that it was last week.

“We all had to learn a lot,” said her mother, Laurie Olson.

The family was told by doctors that whatever recovery Olson made in the first year would be about it. But Olson and her family refused to accept that.

After returning home from the hospital, she wanted to be as much of a teenager again as possible. She wanted to go to the mall, go shopping, apply makeup.

“We went on the Internet looking for fashion tips for girls with disabilities … what do you wear when you are in a wheelchair?” Laurie Olson said. “We wanted to find something that would inspire her, but there wasn’t anything out there for girls.”

What they found was mostly for “old men,” Logan Olson said.

So with help from her mother, her father, Tim, and extended family, Olson explored starting a magazine for girls like her.

“We thought, this way she can be involved in beauty and fashion in a different way,” her mother said.

Olson’s counselors and teachers encouraged her to explore the magazine as a career.

But a counselor with the Washington state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation told the girl “absolutely not; no way,” her mother said. “It wasn’t going to be feasible.”

The family pushed on, pursued a business plan, and hired a CPA and public relations firm.

Eventually the state vocation department agreed to fund Logan magazine, for about $30,000, Laurie Olson said. Anything else would have to come from the magazine’s profits. So far, Laurie Olson said, her family has spent about $20,000 of their own money to get the magazine off the ground

They knocked on doors, and boldly cold-called major corporations in search of support – like Maybelline in New York and Nordstrom.

The Olsons hired the local firm Klundt Hosmer to develop a Web site, and manage design and printing of the magazine.

“All of our projects have a lot of meaning … but there is just a richer meaning to this project that I can’t even place,” said Jean Klundt. “We really felt like we were making a difference.”

Everyone was drawn to the determination of Olson and her mother, who is also the business manager for the project.

“We kept getting fueled by the girls that were hearing about the idea,” Laurie Olson said. “Every time we would think it was a little too much, someone would fuel us.”

Logan Olson worked on her writing and typing skills. She attended a camp for girls at Microsoft, learning how to use the latest technology for people with disabilities. She developed contacts throughout the country.

The Olsons started reaching out to contributing writers, some of whom have disabilities , and developing content ideas.

“It definitely fills a niche that has yet to be recognized,” said Adam Membrey, a Gonzaga University student who is deaf and wrote a story for the first issue.

“What a magazine like this does is it empowers everybody involved,” Membrey said in an e-mail message. “The readers and subscribers will really feel … like they are just as complete as anybody else.”

As the magazine began to take shape, Olson was whisked away for professional photo shoots and design meetings, and the “Oprah Winfrey Show” is calling for a press kit.

It’s been “a trip,” Olson said.

Staff from Klundt Hosmer traveled to Denver this month to oversee the press check at Publication Printers.

About 9,000 copies of Logan magazine are being sent to individuals on a mailing list, and about 150 people have subscribed sight unseen. “Not many young girls can say they have their own bar code,” said Diane Mahan with Klundt Hosmer.

The premier issue of Logan is filled with how-to columns and practical advice for young people with disabilities, like simple recipes, decorating tips, and “tools we love,” like pencil grippers for eyeliner pencils, to help those with fine motor skills difficulties hold on.

There is a story about Ginny Owens, a Christian rock singer, and other features like “Cheap Chic” fashion advice, and “Logan’s Fall Closet.”

“When I’m using my wheelchair, I can wear any skirt with leggings,” Logan writes.

A launch party is scheduled Thursday at River Park Square, where Olson and her mother first met Jean Klundt more than two years ago to talk about the project. The Olsons hope to publish quarterly. Olson has invited everyone who has helped: doctors, counselors, teachers, and the man who administered CPR at the Haunted House, ultimately saving Olson’s life. Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession will be there, too.

“We are just blown away by our community,” Laurie Olson said.

Logan Olson said putting out a magazine has inspired her recovery. She started using a walker instead of a wheelchair and eventually returned to high school. Last year she walked across the stage at commencement for North Central High School, just moments before her younger brother did the same. Olson is one of five siblings.

While the magazine is targeted to the local community for now, there is talk about promoting it nationally.

Subscriptions are coming in from Ohio, Colorado and New York, from people willing to pay $14 a year.

“We just really thought we would just do a little local magazine,” Laurie Olson said.

But she said the message has become clear: Young people with disabilities need a place to connect.

“It’s time to pay attention to them; we want to hear more stories,” Laurie Olson said. “They can have a dream and go for that dream, but they might need a push. We’re here for that.”


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