Hope
Courage
Determination
Compassion

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Volume V Issue XXXVII

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Seattle Washington USA

Katie Holloway
by MARKREIMAN
picture2She naturally stands out simply by being 5 feet 11 inches tall and just twelve years old. She's has a strong, graceful, confident presence on the basketball court and a nice shooting touch. Swish...swish...nothing but net. Minutes later I marveled at her fastpitch softball pitching form as she smoothly popped strike after strike into her dad's mitt from 45 feet away. She and her dad, Jeff, a high school teacher and coach, trade familiar abbreviated comments as the ball makes that sweet pop in the leather back and forth between them.

pop "Nice pitch.""Thanks."

pop "Looks good." "Uh, a little high."

pop "Watch your release." "I know."

This is a Norman Rockwell scene played out here as well as all over America as April brings its annual epidemic of good ol' baseball fever. But there is something remarkable going on that even a careful observer would miss if he wasn't told. That 12 year old kid is doing all this graceful, athletic stuff with an artificial leg. Katie Holloway was born without a fibula in her right leg and, when she was 20 months old, her right foot and ankle were amputated.

Katie now wears a specially made, light weight prosthesis, a man-made replacement for her missing foot and ankle. It's fastened at the knee to the remainder of her right leg which extends about 12 inches below her knee. Her competitors often think she's wearing a knee brace and have no idea that Katie is playing...and often "taking them to school", as the sports saying goes...with an artificial leg. When I carefully ask about her earliest memories of her physical challenge Katie's eyes get extra big and she breaks into a grin. "I'll show you my very first artificial leg, " she says and hustles off to her room to find this rather unique piece of nostalgia. "Sometimes kids would ask questions and tease me, " she remembers, "but I would just tell them what (the prosthesis) was. Some would just say, 'Oh...okay' and we'd keep playing, but other kids thought it was pretty weird and didn't want to accept me."

Katie is now in her first year of middle school and beginning her third sport of the year. Her favorite sport? "Whatever season it is, that's my favorite," she says. For some that might be seen as the politically correct answer but for Katie, she just loves to play. Volleyball in the fall, both school and a club basketball teams in the winter, and fastpitch softball in the spring keep her busy after school.

When I ask about her attitude, I'm thinking this young lady must practice positive thinking. Her father, Jeff, says that she can be pretty stubborn and that has turned into an attitude of athletic and emotional toughness. Some circumstances can't be controlled, such as three recent operations on her already-shortened right leg. Katie remembers, "I thought there were only going to be two (operations) and I was going to have to catch up after those. Then it turned out to be three. It set me back about 9 months but that meant I just had to work that much harder. And I did."

Sometimes Katie gives herself pep talks. "It might be a little harder for me to keep up in stuff like the mile run, but I just keep telling myself to keep working hard, that I can do it, and not to quit." And using her artificial leg as a reason to take it easy doesn't occur to this courageous, tough-minded girl. She says without hesitation that it is her parents who instilled in her a no limitations kind of attitude. Her dad explains, "That's just the way we've always raised her to be. That she's the same as everyone else and that she can do anything she sets her mind to."

I ask Katie if she has ever asked, "Why me?" "Having a challenge like this has made me a stronger person," she answers. Her mother, Jane, adds that she has grown up with a special heart for the "underdog"...those who have a harder time for some reason. Katie adds, "I know what it feels like to be teased and now it really hurts me to see other kids being teased." These are pretty valuable feelings for someone who, not surprisingly, wants to become a teacher and a coach someday.

picture2You can imagine Katie Holloway's response when I ask if she thinks people should feel sorry for her. I mean, she is missing her right foot and ankle, you know. "No one should feel sorry for me," she answers. "This isn't a disability, it's just a challenge. And challenge is just something that makes you stronger."

 

 

MarkreimanMark Reiman is the Editor-In-Chief of Incredible People. You can contact him at mark@IncrediblePeople.com

 

 

Hope      Courage     Determination      Compassion
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