College Miss Majorette of America
No Limitations - the Power of Yet
My dream is to make a wave of social impact that can remove societal stigma currently associated with a feeling of loss as it relates to ability. Every person has experienced some aspect of loss or limitation and because society often defines it in a way that makes people feel less than whole, they can feel very alone, overwhelmed or depressed. It is a helpless feeling if they cannot see a solution that makes them feel valuable or deserving in the eyes of others. But what about the 13% of Americans that are severely disabled? Many were born already experiencing loss but didn’t realize it mentally until they encountered societal deficiency ideas that seem to write off someone without all limbs or perceived intellectual capability.
They came to feel loss through the eyes of another, whether by a label, a comparison, a difference in judgment.
I am an accomplished world champion athlete and thought I had experienced every setback and what pain and grit means to gain - until I met Gaby. She was ten and full of life, born with only one arm and one leg, and she was playing in the No Limitations adaptive sports football league, where I had been asked to perform as the celebrity quarterback and halftime performer. Not only was she happy and using prosthetics to run excitedly with the football, she performed halftime after me as a cheerleader and dancer. She simply rocked every move to the point I didn’t even see that she was missing any limb, let alone two. Her spirit was infectious, and she truly embodied the spirit of her grassroots organization - No Limitations. Designed for the betterment of lives for those in Central Texas who live with developmental and/or physical challenges and their families, adaptive sports work toward joy, accomplishments, and growth.
At that moment, the spotlight on my own life grew from “me to we” and I was on my way to helping them grow other programs like Easter egg hunts, dances, a talent show, scouts, a fashion show and my favorite: plans for an Inclusive Adaptive Playground in Waco.
I immediately connected to the playground idea after painful memories of watching my grandmother suffer from ALS and loss of motor control, unable to play with my niece on a playground due to lack of handicapped accessibility. That has been three years ago and although we are not there “yet,” we will be in the next few years. Until then, I have volunteered 940+ hours and collected $180,000 out of millions raised through various events while learning what loss means to different people. Whether developmental, physical, acquired through health issues, socioeconomic, emotional, or challenged by the wrong environment, loss impacts lives in ways that are just shocking to me. A world I had never known until I put down my baton and opened my eyes to service within the Miss Texas program.
Since then I have also developed a program utilizing psychologist Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” with training techniques to “rewire” our brains based on neural research. The application of growth mindset toward loss employs creative problem solving and encourages people to create their own definition of success in a world only improved by things like adaptive sports, inclusive play, and ideas against all odds.