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My Story

Hello everyone my name is Rose, I was scrolling through my computer this week and ended up finding this little essay i wrote for a program called Ignite Michiana when i was in my freshman year of high school. This little speech will tell you about myself. My journey and where i want to go. 


Hi! Bonswa! My name is Rose Veldman and I’m here to talk to you about me. Just kidding. I’m here to talk to you about overcoming obstacles. But I’m also going to talk about me, and what I do, how you can inspire other people, and how you should never be ashamed to be you.


So, as you might have noticed, my legs are a little different. For one thing, they’re a bit shiny. They’re also bullet-proof, because they are titanium. My legs are prosthetics, which also means I never stub my toes. Well, I guess I do, but it never bothers me.


I lost my real legs six years ago. I’m originally from Haiti, and was living in an orphanage there when on January 12, 2010, an earthquake came out of nowhere and hit my town. I was outside jumping rope with my best friend (with my real legs, of course) when we heard and felt the ground shaking. Everyone started to evacuate the orphanage, but one little girl (TiLala, who was two) was still inside the big swaying building. I ran in and got her from the upper level and threw her down to her dad. He told me to jump, but my dress got stuck, so as I jumped, a piece of the building fell and landed on my legs, crushing them. I was stuck under the wall all night. In the morning, I was rescued and taken to many hospitals. Each one was full of people who were injured like me. We finally found a hospital, but in order to save me, they had to cut off my legs. 


I was lucky. In 2009, before the earthquake, I met these wonderful people named Tom and Anita who came to visit the orphanage. Apparently, I was memorable! So after the earthquake, they called to see if I was okay. I wasn’t, so they worked really hard with my family in Haiti to bring me to America to take care of me. They adopted me. They gave me a new family, and new legs. And these legs are pretty cool (and I guess my family is, too.) When I got to America, I was in a wheelchair, but within a year, I had my first dance recital, and now I can run, ice skate, climb stairs and rock walls, ride horses, drive, and jump rope. 


Learning how to use my new legs was not easy. What has helped me the most throughout the past six years has been having people by my side who love and support me. I’ve got great friends, and they don’t care that sometimes when they take off their shoes, I take off my legs.  In physical therapy, I worked hard, and went through several legs. For a long time, I was ashamed of how I looked. I was different, and even with the nicest legs, I was still going to be different. Now, I know that you should never be ashamed of who you are or how you look. As Taylor Swift says, “haters gonna hate hate hate, baby I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake it off.” (like the song)


My legs are great. I love them. BUT, sometimes they frustrate me.  When I walk, I feel like I’m part robot, which is a pretty weird way to feel. Sometimes, when little kids don’t understand what’s wrong with my legs, they say they want robot legs, too. I understand why they say that, but they really don’t want my legs. Because guess what, sometimes robots break, and they really break or tear. And then I have to go to Chicago and spend several days or even months getting them fixed (which is a long time for a kid like me.) Also, robots can’t swim and don’t like sand (except for BB-8), which means it’s really hard for me to go to the beach. And, these legs are heavy! Your legs are probably heavy too, but they are a part of you, and mine are just like anchors on my knees. 


The worst thing about these legs is that people always whisper behind my back about them. This bothers me for a lot of reasons. It bothers me because they assume that I can’t hear them. I can. It bothers me that they won’t just ask me a question about my legs. I’m here. I’m talking to you all about my legs, so I’m happy to answer questions, just as long as I’m not late for class or something. And sometimes I feel left out. I can play any sport I want to, but I just need to try harder and work harder than the other kids. At school, I know I’m slower than the other students, and I feel like I hold up the line. But I’ve found solutions for a lot of these things. I ignore the people who are whispering about me. They aren’t worth my time. I have great friends at school and just join in the games that they are playing, even if I do have to work harder. Or when I’m changing classes, I make sure I’m the last one to get up, so that I won’t hold up the line, but it also means that I’m the last one in line at lunch, so most of the good stuff is pretty much gone. 


In the future, I’d love for my legs to understand the messages that my brain is sending, so that they can do the things that your legs do without so much work on my part. Someday soon, I hope to get legs with a high heel, even though my dad can’t understand why I want to wear high heels instead of high tops. And I NEED legs that are more durable, because I’ve broken these way too many times. These aren’t my only legs. I have pair of running legs that are blades.


I want to be remembered as someone who inspires others to follow their dreams. Before the earthquake, my dream was to be successful, and it still is. And I think I’m doing pretty well so far, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I get good grades and have good friends. I was on the golf team this fall, am looking forward to being on the track team this spring. I work hard and try to have a good attitude. I also think it would be cool to be the first woman on Mars, or just to be the best me that I can be. 


Sometimes people tell me that I’m an inspiration, but for a long time, I was never sure why. I am just a kid, just living my life and trying to be me. But I’ve learned that just by living your life, you can be an inspiration, and my mom is my inspiration. She’s brave and kind, and changed my life so much for the better.  Everyone can inspire others. What can you do? What gifts can you share with the world? Or if not the world, what gifts can you share with your family, your friends, or your city? How can you help others to take off?

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