No Arms or Legs — Part 2

I introduced my friend, Annie, to you in an earlier post.  What are her goals in life?  Where does she see herself in 10 years?  Living independently; this is her greatest desire as she moves into adulthood, and I think she will certainly achieve it.  After high school, Annie is hoping to attend the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, VA.  The courses offered at this facility are impressive; they teach independence and life skills for those with injuries or disabilities.  She also plans to get her college degree and would like to be an inspirational speaker, or perhaps work as a prison counselor, which has been of particular interest to her. 

What are her dreams?  Well, she has several – she’d like to be able to drive a car, go hunting, and go on exchange to Australia (her sister is currently on an educational exchange to England through Rotary International), and she’d like to ride a specially designed pedal bike (yet to be created).  These are some of her dreams, and she certainly has the skills to pursue these interests. 

Annie is a member of the high school forensics’ team.  She wrote her oratory on discrimination and has done some drama presentations as well.  She missed the National qualifiers by only 1 point last year.  She enjoys writing and has written several essays and stories for her Advanced English class.  Take a look at her oratory here, and imagine a very intelligent and attractive young lady sitting up tall in her wheelchair to deliver these words of great importance.  

img_7263Annie knows what she is speaking about when she talks about roadblocks that the disabled encounter when trying to make a life in this world.  Through the support of her aunt, who is always quick to speak up or fight for Annie, and through the support of her educational case managers, they were finally able to obtain a new wheelchair for her, but it took over a year.  The new wheelchair tilts back, easing the pain in her back, and also moves up and down to allow her to operate on different levels.  

It took a little more work to be able to get headlights for the wheelchair; they certainly are needed on her evening walks with Kujo, her dog, or her frequent trips downtown.  Incidentally, they have been hoping to send Kujo to a prison where inmates train dogs for working with the disabled, but everything takes funding.  The family is also trying to obtain funding for a carrier for the back of their suburban, as the wheelchair is too large to put into the vehicle.  When the family traveled to Rapid City recently they had to take a stroller for Annie, as her wheelchair does not fit in the car.  She would much have preferred independence as they wandered around various places in the city.  She does have a life alert button on her chair and in the home in case of emergency.  

Annie said that when she was young she once had a pity party and began to feel sorry for herself.  However, after attending a Special Olympics in Oregon, where she lived at the time, she came home with a new attitude.  She had seen kids in “worse shape” than she is in, and came home feeling really blessed and capable.  This positive attitude has stayed with her and given her a determination to do all that she can, rather than give up in frustration.  She also said she has faith in God to “be there” for her.  

img_7268When I asked what we can do as a society to be more helpful to people with disabilities, she simply said, “Don’t treat me like I’m different.  I’m just like everyone else.  Be friendly.”  Annie admitted that she doesn’t have as many friends since she moved to Buffalo, Wyoming, from Gillette.  

I am so proud of Annie’s progress throughout her life.  I am glad to have become better acquainted with her through this interview.  I had not been aware of the level of her determination and independence, and these are character traits that will take her far in life.  When I asked if it would be possible to use prosthetics in the future, her answer surprised me.  “Even if it is,” she said, “I don’t want them.  This is the way God made me.  Why change what I’ve already learned on my own?  If I had arms, I would have to learn things all over again.”  

That is the kind of attitude that makes me so proud of Annie, and pleased to be her friend. 


14 thoughts on “No Arms or Legs — Part 2

  1. aunt deb says:

    Hi there annIe Is still in Gillette in college she graduates in May she recently was in Oregon for a back surgery everything went fine you can find annIe on Facebook she be more than willing to talk to you guys thank you bye bye. I’m not for sure if she has seen the site but I will text it to her so maybe she wIllcheck it out hi Julie

  2. Enrique says:

    does annie read these comments or does she have her own blog?

  3. Bhalchandra says:

    Amazing girl. I believe it has a lot to do with the way a child with ‘limitations’ is brought up – positivity breeds optimism. Such are those that inspire us. Hope to read the first edition of this story too….when I muster the time for it.

  4. Juli Jarvis says:

    I’m proud of her too Deb! And actually — proud of you, too!

    • deb hicks says:

      i might have been there for annie but she taught me, everything she has accomplish was on her own because i couldnt show her much she had to figure it out herself, annie has been living on her own now for 2 yrs and does a mighty good job at it, she is in college and still sticking with her goal as a prison councilor, some things have changed since this writing she doent no longer has kugo but she has another dog now that she got as a puppy and living on her own had to do all the training and tend to the normal puppy messes and she is training him for a service dog by herself, marley will get her van keys out of back of chair take cloths out of the drawer for her all kinds of neat things yeah im mighty proud of her aunt deb

  5. DEB HICKS says:


  6. i saw her a maury years ago ask her if she would like to have some equipment designed for her based on her input..i have years of education and empirical documentation to verify my ofer (to design) and my request (for any ideas that she could share). there is no cost to her.…thanx…when she and her aunt were on maury they were aboutto go swim w/dolphins…GOOL karl

  7. Juli Jarvis says:

    Kirk — you are so kind. Thanks for sharing about your dad.

  8. Juli –

    My dad is a bilateral upper extremity amputee. Incompetent treatment (it was 1938) of the compound fractures he suffered in a fall from a cherry tree led to infection requiring amputation to save his life. Like Annie, he was not about to let this limit his dreams. He led a life full of accomplishments – he was a pilot, a hunter, a bowler and the successful owner of a business which helped thousands of amputees worldwide. A book he self-published in 1973 was aptly titled “It Can Be Done” and was as much a mantra for his life as a title for his book.

    You are exactly what Annie needs in her life, someone who sees blessing, not roadblock, in her physical being. We know God has an amazing life planned for Annie and you have an amazing seat, much as I have had, to see the glory unfold.

  9. Juli Jarvis says:

    You are so right Vicki! Ditto!

  10. Vicki Small says:

    Wow. And I complain about the parts of me that ache, often. If you ever catch me doing that, just tell me to go to my room.

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