You're probably wondering, "What does a lifted truck build have to do with this girls leg or tumor?" For me, everything. It's a symbol that show that even if you’ve been through some really hard times, you can still have an amazing life, be proud of who you are, and go on to do big things. Here's how it all started....
I’ve been disabled basically my whole life (if you haven’t read the back stories, those are in the two previous posts). As soon as my surgeries started, my leg deteriorated and I started wearing a leg brace and walking differently. I’ve been made fun of more times than I can even remember. Kids in school can be really cruel. I remember in middle school back when I wore shorts, a group of kids were sitting at a table across from me whispering about my leg calling me “gimp ass” and “retarded” making fun of how I walked. It hurt. It wasn’t like I wanted to be that way. I had no control over it. From there I started covering it up and hiding it, wearing only pants for years, even in 100 degree summers. Not just kids though, adults too. I’ve found with some friendships, relationships, or even family, the first blow is always a shot at the disability. I dated a guy in college for like a month. After we stopped talking, I saw a conversation on his facebook between him and a friend, “At least you got rid of the girl without a leg.” Hysterical. Considering I do have a leg, for now anyway. They were total douche bags and luckily I realized it was them and not me. The more I tried to cover it up, the worse it got. I would park in handicapped spots at the store with a disabled license plate on my mustang. I’d get out of the car (wearing jeans of course) and old people would yell at me, “You’re not disabled! You can’t park there! Those spots are for people who really need it!” Oh because I’m too young to park there? I don’t look disabled enough for you? I’d lift up my pant leg to show them my leg brace and sarcastically ask them how long they’ve been able to park in those spots because I’ve had the “privilege” my whole life. I didn’t ask for the privilege, but was born with it and it’s not from old age.
So one day, it’s like a light switch flipped. I just got sick of how I was handling it and the way people were reacting. So I decided to change. I went from being extremely embarrassed about being different to flaunting it. I hadn’t worn shorts in 20 plus years until this past year. The minute that I changed my thinking, my life became so much better. I found that instead of hiding it but having confidence in knowing that I am different and that’s ok, I received less stares. Less rude comments, and overall less negativity. I went from saying I was in a car or snowboarding accident to saying I had a spinal cord tumor and now I’m getting my leg cut off. People’s reactions went from, “Oh my gosh, I feel so sorry for you,” to “Wow, you’re brave and awesome for rocking it.” It took me so long to get to this point because I didn’t have anyone around me who was like me or who had a disability.
I’ve learned to embrace my differences and want to change the thinking of disabilities/disabled people. I thought about what I could do to share that message in a big and awesome way. I decided to build a lifted truck and call it disAbled Beauty. I planned on taking it to charity events, hospitals, truck shows, walks or runs for different fundraisers, etc. I wanted something big that I could reach out to kids with disabilities, and even adults, and disability organizations. I googled how to get sponsored and saw that the best way is to get a truck rendering, a plan of what your truck would look like when it’s finished. So I went to KEG Media, a major graphic design company in the lifted truck industry, for a logo and rendering of what my truck would look like when it was all finished. I discussed my ideas and what I wanted to do with the truck with Robbie, the owner, who then made them come to life. I told him I wanted a logo to go along with the name and how it was important that the “dis” in disabled be crossed out. After one phone conversation with Robbie, he knocked it out of the park. It truly represents what I was trying to show; that having Ability is stronger than any disability. He then asked me if I wanted to build the truck to be shown at the SEMA show (the world’s largest automotive trade show in Las Vegas, NV).
I feel like one of the luckiest girls to have this opportunity and am so grateful to have so many sponsors and support. My goal is to show that being different isn’t always a bad thing. I was born to stand out for a reason and I hope to show that to others so they are empowered enough to have the confidence to be themselves. I can’t wait to do big things with this truck and I’m excited to share it all along the way.