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Marilyn Cruz

Founder & President 

Living an Adaptive life typically means there has been some form of adversity, challenge, injury, diagnosis, difficulty, or pressure presented for that individual in their life.

Our Founder & President, knows the meaning of living an Adaptive life all too well.  Her own story and life's triumphs led the way to creating a grassroots organization that now is recognized on a global scale.  

Her Story

Just a few days after turning 21, Marilyn Cruz was a passenger in a devastating car accident and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (AKA a TBI), hemorrhaging in 3 parts of her brain and leaving her with severe amnesia. Fighting for her identity, understanding of self and who she was became Marilyn's biggest battle.  Sleeping 22 out of 24 hours in a day, and waking up everyday not knowing where she was, who she was, what her name was, where she was going or came from, became an extremely difficult reality for her.  At the time she was a Volleyball Coach and studying Philosophy at the Florida International University with high hopes of going through law school to later join the FBI as she wanted to help fight the malice in the world.  However after her accident she was told she would forever be to some degree 'disabled' which did not sit well with Marilyn.  She believed there was more to her than a mentally crippling diagnosis.  


Throughout her recovery she felt very isolated and misunderstood.  Having an 'invisible injury' was difficult, as most of her family, friends and peers just couldn't 'see' what was wrong with her.  Feeling alone and only understood by movies like "50 First Dates" or "Memento", it was extremely hard for Marilyn to express her troubles and sufferings. She didn't have people around her that she could relate to, she lost jobs, friends, lovers, and many opportunities.  She had to quit pursuing her Philosophy degree when she couldn't even remember her name to write on the top of her exams.  She spiraled into a deep dark depression.  It took Marilyn 6 years of darkness, confusion, and several suicide attempts to finally see the light.  She was up late one night and caught an infomercial for Tony Robbins (an international Life Coach) and one of his seminars.  Feeling at the end of her rope, she took a chance on herself and flew to California and walked on fire at that seminar.  She was forever changed from that experience.  When she returned to Florida, she walked past a new concept gym at the time called Crossfit, and saw a quote on the door that read "Through these doors you will face your toughest nemesis - Yourself".  Feeling understood by this quote and intrigued by the location and new sport, she became a member.  Quickly there after the impossible started becoming possible - her brain began to regenerate.


Through Crossfit and extreme exercise her brain finally started repairing itself, creating new neuro-connections, and bringing back memories of her past and identity.  Marilyn became obsessed with her progress.  Learning about the brain and healing post brain injury became one of her favorite subjects to study.  She vowed to live a life helping others climb out of dark periods in their own lives.  She became a certified Crossfit Coach & Life Coach and began helping others heal and find their true identities in their own journey.


In 2014 she was busy creating a name for herself in the fitness industry and came across a video showing several 'Adaptive athletes' and a TBI survivor who identified as 'Adaptive'.  Becoming curious about this term and researching it, she realized that she too was an 'Adaptive' athlete.  She dove deep into learning about all things Adaptive related and saw a big disconnect between adaptive sports, events, activities and people who identified as disabled and handicap.  Soon she experienced a prominent vision.  She remembered the way she felt when she heard the word disabled.  She remembered how it took away from her spirit.  She envisioned a world where people weren't disempowered by labels or descriptive language, but rather lifted up and empowered by them instead. Where the language that was used to describe those who were facing hardship could help them rather than neglect them.  She took the two most powerful words she knew "I AM" and paired them with this new term that stood for the willingness to change and overcome adversity - ADAPTIVE... soon I - AM - ADAPTIVE was born.  The idea to unify Adaptive people worldwide and connect them to the resourses that would most benefit them came to life.  It was soon thereafter registered as a 501(c)3 charity and has since gone on to become one of the largest known Adaptive Movements in the world, standing for inclusion & diversity, connecting people together, empowering Adaptive individuals of all walks of life to believe in their abilities, bringing Adaptive stories to light worldwide and showcasing the 'impossible' becoming possible.

Since 2014, Marilyn has attended and spread awareness at countless Adaptive events, competitions, sporting activities, workshops, group meetings, seminars, talks and more throughout the country.  She and I AM ADAPTIVE have worked with like minded companies, creators, non-profits, events, schools, hospitals, advocates and more throughout the 9 years of its existence. She has spoken at seminars, colleges & universities as well as advised companies on their inclusion & diversity policies.  She feels passionately about how Adaptive people are represented visually and works to shine light on individuals doing incredible things with proper media coverage of Adaptive events of all kinds.  She also feels a need for more proper legal representation in the adaptive community, and works with advocate groups and lawyers to help make life a bit easier for those who need it most.  She has and continues to train Adaptive athletes of all ages and abilities. Understanding the power of one's mindset is everything and something she holds dear, as she helps people harness the power of their own mind and adaptability.  With a soft spot in her heart for Veterans, I AM ADAPTIVE works together with Veteran supporters and organizations to help those who have served our country, especially every year helping Homeless Veterans during the holidays at Vetsville.  Marilyn has a grand vision for I AM ADAPTIVE and what she hopes to continue growing the organization into.  Her dream is for a truly inclusive and diverse world for Adaptive individuals of all kinds to be able to experience the best of themselves and this world.


With the support of people like you this movement continues to span across the globe touching the hearts and minds of all those who believe in Inclusion for all.  


"Together we can help create a world where everyone is given an equal ground to become their greatest selves."

~Marilyn Cruz

Founder & President



I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, brands and companies in the world.  Let's connect.  

~Marilyn Cruz

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