Long story short? I am an amputee. Here’s the story of Live without Limbs!
When I first started school, I told the kids our pet alligator was a bad idea. That got me sent to the principal’s office. It was hard as a 5-year-old explaining to other 5-year-olds that I was born in another country and given up for adoption because my leg was all wonky. In all honesty, I was born with Clubfoot and Tibial hemimelia. My right foot was turned in, and had seven toes! My tibia wasn’t growing so my right leg was much shorter than my left. I was born to Flora and Lev in Mineralnyvodi, Russia. The doctors told them there was nothing they could do to fix me, and that I would probably die. They wanted to save me so they put me in an orphanage and prayed I got shipped off to the United States. Luckily, there was a young couple on business in Russia at the same time. Danny and Kathy ended their world travels in order to bring me home!
I came to the U.S., became a citizen, got my leg amputated, and had a family once again! Pretty crazy story. Growing up I knew I was very fortunate, but I struggled a lot. Middle school is not easy for a kid with a limp. I was also about half the size of my classmates. I was an easy target for bullying. I played all sorts of sports, and was very active. However, I noticed that none of the other kids at school had a fake leg like me. They were all much faster than me on the field, and way more graceful in ballet class. I would often get frustrated that none of my friends were like me.
In high school, I was in a leadership program that required a big project that would make a difference. It was pretty open-ended, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do. A lot of the students were pairing up to go on volunteer projects and whatnot. I decided to start an organization to promote amputee awareness. I had experienced years of bullying for being different, and I wanted to be the voice for amputees in my community. I was able to talk to lots of students around St. Louis and share my story. I had a little girl come up to me at the end of one of my talks, and tell me that she finally felt proud to be adopted. She had never met anyone else that was adopted and felt very alone. I hope that changing just one child’s perspective can start to change many.
Want to get active as an amputee? Click the picutre above!