Life Video

By Josh Saunders

A mum who was left paralysed after being shot four times by her ex-husband has become a model and a dance teacher.

Domestic violence survivor Sunshine King, 37, was left her unable to move from the chest down – but that didn’t stop her from storming New York Fashion week.

After the brutal attack in 2004, Sunshine suffered an T4-T5 incomplete spinal cord injury and jaw damage that left her battling for her life.

Sunshine spent nearly ten weeks in hospital and rehabilitation recovering from her injuries, as well as relearning how to sit-upright, bathe and dress.

But the mum-of-one, who was determined not to be ‘defined by her disability’, started modelling again and relearned to dance using her wheelchair.


Sunshine became an adaptive dance instructor for people with paralysis, other physical limitations and able-bodied people.

She has since been down the runway at New York Fashion Week for the past two years and other events promoting model diversity on the catwalk.

Sunshine from Baltimore in Maryland, USA, said: “I was paralysed and had a lot of recovery to go through from there, including relearning to bathe and dress.

“It took me a long time to understand how to forgive my ex-husband. I will never understand why he did what he did to me or himself, there will always be a lot of unanswered questions.

“But I refused to let my disability define me, I started modelling and dancing again holding my ground proudly ever since.


“I model and dance, when I perform I move every inch of my body that I can, I understand that I am paralysed but I will do more with it.

“I have refused to lose myself, by having a spinal cord injury, it definitely encouraged me and others to own their disabilities.

“Whatever your dreams are – go for it. I’m not letting people tell me what I’m capable of doing I’m showing them what I can do.”

After the attack that happened outside her mother’s house, she was rushed to hospital and doctors doubted she’d survive.

While Sunshine was fighting for her life, her ex-husband committed suicide after police pursuit.

She said: “We were married for three years and knew one another for eight , now I can’t speak his name it’s like Beetlejuice.”


After recovering, she started dancing and modelling again but from her wheelchair and even appeared in New York Fashion Week in the past two years.

She said: “I went from modelling to working out to dancing again.

“While dancing, my wheels became my legs, while I can’t do kick splits and leaps, I can move and utilise space to express myself.

“Even though I’m working in a chair, the energy is still there, I’m giving all I have, music makes me roll, I love all kinds of dancing.”


Sunshine’s gone onto teach adaptive dance to others in wheelchairs, those with physical limitations and able-bodied people too.

She hopes to continue spreading her passion to others.

Sunshine said: “I wanted to teach people with disabilities, everyone from those with autism to amputees and those with spinal cord injuries like mine.

“I’m hoping to show people that you have to embrace what has happened and adapt what you do around your circumstance.

“I believe you can use your arts to heal your whole body it will take you out of a box and help you to grow as a person.”