On June 30, 2018, 22-year-old Stefanie Schaffer was on a family vacation to the Bahamas when her tour boat exploded underneath the seat she was sitting on. In her words, “it’s a miracle” she lived that day. Stefanie suffered extensive injuries – multiple broken bones, internal bleeding, a spinal cord injury, a brain injury, and ultimately, the loss of both of her legs.
After undergoing several surgeries, months of rehab, and learning to walk with prosthetics, Stefanie was beginning to see a future for herself – she wanted to actually live her life again. She set goals for herself to accomplish, and she promised herself that she would get back to the quality of life she aspired to achieve. One of these goals? Being able to drive a vehicle.
North Country Chevy Dealers & “Heart vs Head”
In today’s over-communicated society with the explosion of social media (approximately 80% of the population in each market area is on Facebook) the need to “engage” with customers is most important. Understanding this, our clients, the North Country Chevy Dealers, adopted the philosophy of “Heart vs Head” to reach their local audiences. When they heard Rutland, VT native, Stefanie Schaffer’s story, they were moved to step in and contribute in whatever way they could.
In March 2019, this group of dealers from New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire came together in Rutland, VT to surprise Stefanie with a brand new 2019 Chevy Equinox – completely equipped with handi-accessible controls. For Stefanie the day started as a normal one, she was at her physical therapy session when the dealers tip-toed down the hall, lifted the door, and presented her with a sparkling new vehicle – she was teary-eyed and speechless.
With the help of Stefanie’s family, physical therapists, the dealers, and a few driving lessons, Stefanie was able to meet one of her most cherished goals – the ability to drive again. She was able to gain the independence she had been craving for the past year.
An ongoing partnership was formed between the North Country Chevy Dealers and Stefanie Schaffer, which became known as #StefFindsNewRoads.
The ability we have at TRAINOR to help people tell their stories is what I love about this job. It’s a privilege to have been able to get to know Stefanie and work with her on a daily basis – together, we navigate her story.
The strategy behind #StefFindsNewRoads is to tell Stefanie’s story in the most authentic way possible. With the support of the North Country Chevy Dealers, we’ve been able to create an engaging social presence. The #StefFindsNewRoads Facebook & Instagram pages are built on a completely organic strategy. Her content is real, raw photos and videos. Her engagement skyrockets each month, and her followers flood in each day to follow her story and offer support.
Stefanie and her story are unique – she’s special. With her as the pillar, we help to guide her each month, each day in planning her posts. Her social media posts are genuine and honest, and each detail is thought out carefully to capture her physical and emotional progress, her setbacks, and her achievements.
If you follow #StefFindsNewRoads, you will see sprinkles of her past, mentions of her accident, but what you will consistently find is a personalized brand that bloomed from a tragic day in a young woman’s life. When you read her posts, her blogs, or hear her public speaking events, her voice is steady. You can feel the confidence she has gained these past two years.
Her physical therapist, Kate Moser, said it best: “I saw a girl who was at the end of her college career, about to start her life, maybe start a family, and she had this thrown at her. She could have sat in a room and cried or she could show up every day and do her rehab and give it her all, and she chose that.”
Working at TRAINOR, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet clients from all over the world. I’ve learned about different verticals from equine rehabilitation to the manufacturing of portable buildings to the automotive industry – but with Stefanie, I’ve learned about strength, perseverance, and kindness. From day one with working on the #StefFindsNewRoads strategy was when I realized the importance of staying true to your brand and the strength you can find in storytelling.