Steppin’ Up Women’s conference rejuvenates, inspires women

Lifestyles: Speaker Faith Ecklund, in a wheelchair since 1997, will share her story at event

of the GatewayJanuary 15, 2014 

Faith Ecklund will be the guest speaker at the Steppin’ Up Women’s Conference. Ecklund is a musician and a co-author of the childrens book “Friends in Chairs with Wheels.”

FAITH ECKLAND/COURTESY PHOTO

You’re never too old for a pajama party.

Participants at the eighth annual Steppin’ Up Women’s Conference are invited to get comfortable while they get motivated. The conference, which will be held at the Best Western Wesley Inn from Jan. 24-26, is a time to inspire and motivate women.

Lindsey Munson, the hotel’s director of marketing, said she likes to see women of all ages share struggles, inspiration and advice.

“That is truly what inspires me to keep doing it each year,” she said.

Keynote speaker Faith Ecklund knows about dreams. In 1997, the summer before her senior year at Curtis High School in University Place, Ecklund was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

“(It) was crazy hard,” Ecklund said. “It was a difficult year in itself as a teenager.”

Rather than let the accident set her back, Ecklund has surged ahead. She moved to Nashville with her husband two years ago to focus on her music career. She has a publishing contract, and she’s recording an album this month for an EP coming this spring. Her previous two albums are on her website, faithecklundmusic.com.

Writing has been a way for Ecklund to express her faith and outlook on life.

“All the writing for the last two years is finally coming together, so it’s cool,” she said.

Outside of music, Ecklund is the co-author of a forthcoming children’s book: “Friends in Chairs with Wheels.” The book is the idea of co-author Carrie Case of Fircrest, one of Ecklund’s friends.

Case’s father, who had multiple sclerosis, used a wheelchair. Case wanted to make sure her children knew people in chairs are the same as those who aren’t. The book will be available in the spring.

The book’s message is it’s OK to ask questions. Some children may have never seen a person in a wheelchair and might not know what that means, Ecklund said.

The book is a way to open dialog between parents and children so people in wheelchairs are the same as anyone else.

“It’s just another person’s normal,” she said.

Ecklund’s “paradigm shift” rocked her life, but it also grounded her. Raised in a Christian home, her faith has deepened throughout the years.

Ecklund said music is intrinsically tied to her faith. She used to travel to area churches with her grandmother, an organist. The accident led her to a close relationship with Jesus, she said.

“He is my lifeline, and there is absolutely no way I could do this without him,” she said.

Tickets for the Steppin’ Up conference are $50 with a special $25 rate for active-duty military members. Proceeds go toward the hotel’s annual Christmas party for foster children. At the party, children in foster care are given gifts during a fancy holiday meal.

Special rates for overnight stays also are available.

Ecklund said she’s excited to attend the conference. She’s attended in the past, but this will be her first as a speaker.

“I’m stoked,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really fun.”

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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