In general, we avoid dealing with any imperfection, delay or disability. It's uncomfortable. We ignore, look away, or smile out of pity.
But every now & then, a person with disabilities shows up and changes everything. Gold medal snowboarder Amy Purdy, and her professional dance partner Derek Hough did that last night on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
I'd seen the show before, but hadn't watched it in a long time. Since I wasn't feeling well, I was zonked out on the couch & just left the TV on, half paying attention.
I am so glad I did!
I have experienced this a few times in my life. People with disabilities have impacted my life in many ways. But Amy and Derek took it to a new level.
I have seen my Dad, Emilio, gradually lose his sight. He lost the ability to drive a car when I was younger. He struggled with maintaining jobs and battled disappointment and loss. But he danced with me at my prom (its a puertorrican thing...families go to the prom!) He gave me away at my wedding. He relocated from Puerto Rico to Dallas, TX in his 60s and is actively pursuing job opportunities. He's involved in church. And he continues to hone his conservatory classical music training on his grand piano. Plus, I've seen my Mom stay by his side through it all. Amazing.
In 4th grade, I met my friend Cristina. She had a glass eye and could barely see with ger "good eye". But Crissy's parents saw her & treated her as a normal girl. She rode her bike. We went to the movies & always sat in the front! We had a BLAST on church retreats to the beach in Vieques, went bowling, you get the idea. She's now a married teacher with two boys in Austin, TX.
From a young age, I saw disability as something that didn't have to hold you back from doing whatever you wanted.
A few years ago, my husband and I relocated from Puerto Rico to California. While working at a radio event at a mall in Temecula, I had the amazing, life altering experience of watching Nick Vujicic live.
He was born without limbs. Talk about having special needs and challenges. He shared about his unbelievably difficult life. How do you do anything if you don't have arms and legs?
Just ask Nick! He travels the world. He uses a special weelchair, and then gets out of it and goes on stage in front of millions of people to inspire them. He is an impossibility. But God says nothing is impossible for Him! Nick shares how, if God has helped him, no matter what we may go through, God can help us, too.
This all brings me to what I saw on TV last night.
I had not heard of Amy Purdy until last night. She had bacterial meningitis as a teen. She lost both of her legs and ended up with a kidney transplant. Her dad was the donor.
Then, she won three World Cup gold medals in adaptive snowboarding. Amazing!!
So, she can snowboard, but could she dance?
For this week's choreography, she got special prosthetic legs that keep the feet pointed, so she could dance.
And she danced ... and her partner Derek, sweetly, gently, led her in the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, tear-jerking dance I have ever seen.
The song was "Human" by Christina Perri. And Derek and Amy showed us that you can transcend the limits we sometimes put on what a "human" can do.