Linda Olson

At age twenty-nine, Linda Olson lost both her legs above the knee and her right arm in a train vs. car accident in Germany. “I didn’t marry your arms and your legs … if you can do it, I can do it,” was the first thing her husband, Dave Hodgens, said to her after the accident. In those first few days they chose to focus on what they could do, not what they couldn’t do. They made lists and set goals to accomplish, taking control of their lives rather than becoming victims.

Together they rebuilt their lives as Linda learned to walk with prostheses, and devised new ways to perform the activities of daily living. A year later she moved back to Los Angeles where she lived independently, gave birth to their first child, and finished her Radiology training. She had an illustrious thirty-year career as a Professor of Radiology at the University of California, San Diego where she was the Director of Breast Imaging and the recipient of many teaching awards.  She was known for her compassionate patient care and mentoring of medical students, residents and fellow faculty members.

With help from teams of friends and family, Linda and Dave raised their two children to canoe, kayak, backpack, raft and travel in remote places. They learned that it didn’t matter if their mom looked funny, or if she couldn’t do things the way other people did—they could still have a good time and get out and go.

Linda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2015 and is committed to empowering Parkinson’s patients and families to live life as full as possible, in spite of their disabilities, and to get up, get out, and go.


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