Regina DeMarasse was a lover of music and the arts. Born in Queens, New York on March 10, 1958, Regina’s early talents earned her a coveted seat in the New York High School for Music and Art. Here she spent four years increasing her skills playing piano, singing, dancing, drawing and writing both prose and poetry. After graduation in 1976, a spinal tumor changed her body and her life. She became a quadriplegic, lost her eyesight and could no longer play the piano, sing, dance or draw.
Despite these devastating physical traumas, Regina continued to develop her writing skills, dictating at first, then learning to use Morse Code and a special computer program. She also continued her love and appreciation of music in all forms. In fact, all of the arts nourished and inspired her until the moment of her premature death on August 31, 2004 at the age of 46.
Regina attended Mattatuck Community College, the predecessor of Naugatuck Valley Community College. She earned her associate degree from Queensboro Community College, a bachelor’s degree from UConn and a Master of Arts in counseling from Fairfield University. She received accreditation as a certified counselor despite her physical challenges and took an active role in politics. She became a homeowner, an international speaker and author. Her autobiography, “Still Determined After All These Tears,” chronicles her triumphs over seemingly insurmountable odds that she faced daily. Written as a sequel to her autobiography, “Salissa’s Dance” is a story about a severely injured elf who learns to live a full life despite her disability. Regina puffed each word of the story and all of her poems, essays, letters and college papers in Morse Code into her computer for translation into English.
All her textbooks were put on tape for her to study. Regina's inspiration reached across the U.S., Canada, Netherlands and England where she traveled to lecture and give seminars concerning "The Price of Freedom" she experienced as she lived outside large institutions and in her own home in Waterbury. Her last public appearance was to testify before the Connecticut Legislature in June, 2004, fighting for more resources for people like herself who struggle to live outside an institution − free.