This young lady in the picture above is the epitome of a healthy, active young person thoroughly enjoying her life. However, millions of children and adults either start their lives with incredible obstacles to overcome or encounter them sometime later in life. When this happens, they are faced with many challenges. Many do nothing to change or overcome their circumstances, they just give up and accept their life as if that is what was meant to be.
Several years ago, I ran across a special dressage event on RFD TV showcasing handicapped children learning to ride horses and competing inspite of their disabilities. I am an avid dressage and horse lover and was totally amazed at the incredible accomplishments of two young girls competing in this particular event. In dressage, the horse and rider must work as one and the commands and changes must be unnoticeable. This takes years of practice and determination to accomplish even with riders who are not disabled. I really hate using the word “disabled” in describing these two young girls’ accomplishments because they miraculously proved they were in no way “disabled!” One of the young girls was actually born with no arms at all and holding the reins in her teeth. The other young girl had absolutely no legs from her hips down. She was fitted with a special saddle with “cups” holding her body trunk in place. In dressage, one of the major challenges in riding and competing is the use of your hands, reins and legs to cue and control the horse for collection and movement. As I sat there watching these young girls maneuver their massive and well-schooled dressage horses through their patterns of the tests, I was totally in awe of their ability and balance. They truly were an inspiration riding with their passion, confidence and determination.
Another true inspiration is Amy Purdy, who is a US Paralympic Team Snowboarder, Para-Snowboarder, athlete, actor, Motivational Speaker, Amazing Race Contestant and currently a semi-finalist on Dancing With the Stars. At age 19, Amy contracted Neisseria meningitis, which is a form of bacterial meningitis. The disease affected her circulatory system and led to septic shock. Both of her legs had to be amputated below the knee, she lost both kidneys, and her spleen had to be removed. Sepsis is an inflammatory response, leading to organ failure and/or clinical shock. This usually is a common cause of death. However, in Amy’s case she went into septic shock in less than 24 hours of getting sick. Doctors gave her only a 2% chance to survive since her sepsis was so advanced. Two years later, she received a kidney transplant from her father. Amy did not allow this to stop her. She went on testing herself, her faith competing and excelling in the above competitions.
I love dancing and enjoy watching Dancing With the Stars and this particular season was exceptionally amazing. Week after week Amy had excelled in performing incredibly difficult dance routines with her partner Derek Hough. She had totally been an inspiration to everyone exhibiting her incredible balance, determination and perseverance dancing around the floor with prostheses from the knees down without any hesitation.
These three young ladies are truly an inspiration for all young people and adults proving that no matter what you are dealt with in life you can overcome and persevere. They have not limited themselves and their potentials because of their “disabilities” but turned themselves into stars. They dared to “Dream Big – Trust in Themselves – and God’s Plan.”