Dr. Danielle Sheypuk made her way down the aisle at New York Fashion Week, becoming the first model to do so in a wheelchair in the history of the style event.

Model In Wheelchair Hits NYFW

Sheypuk modeled in Carrie Hammer’s Feb. 6 show, which featured the designer’s looks on role models instead of runway models. Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist based out of New York City, was Miss Wheelchair New York 2012 and was the 3rd place Miss Wheelchair USA. She believes that it’s time for the fashion industry to appeal to women like her, who happen to get around in a wheelchair.

“I feel like the industry has gotten more accepting of diversity but you never hear of a model in a wheelchair and it’s just ludicrous,” Sheypuk told ABC News. “I would like the whole spectrum of fashion designers to tune in, all the way up to high fashion like Tory Burch, Gucci and Louis Vitton because, why not?” Sheypuk said. “Many of us have successful careers and we have money and we want to spend it and we want to look good.”

Danielle Sheypuk Recalls Fashion Week Debut

At her fashion show debut last week, Sheypuk found that the audience appreciated the energy that she and the other models exuded from the runway. “I remember tons and tons of flashbulbs going off and people applauding a lot,” Sheypuk said. “The consensus afterwards was that the models, all of us, we exuded this happiness and pride that infiltrated the room, and the audience reacted.”

Hammer has received a lot of attention for casting Sheypuk in her fashion show. Though the designer is aware of the newsworthiness of her casting choice, she’s quick to point out that choosing someone in a wheelchair for her show was far from a stunt.

“I was casting role models for my event and Danielle is a good friend of mine. She is someone who is strong and is a force to be reckoned with,” she told Elle magazine. “It wasn't about casting a token model in a wheelchair. Danielle is a role model. Period.”

Sheypuk, like Hammer, wants the focus to be on the person – the role model – and not the way in which she gets around.

“My wheelchair is just a part of my body – an extension of me – and I’m the main focus, not the chair,” Sheypuk said. “That’s how I look at it and I moved that perspective to the runway. Fashion is about dressing the body that you have. It doesn’t matter what disability you have, or if you have one. It’s about knowing what to accentuate.”

– Chelsea Regan

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