It is with a great deal of pride and pleasure that we at the Café present the following article by Debra Freeman HighbergerAimee started her life as a newborn with no fibulas. Because her tibias would eventually not support her they made an early decision to amputate when she was one years old. I have never met Aimee’s parents but they are always the first people I think of when I think of Aimee. What a wonderful encouraging role models they must have been for her.
Another encouraging factor was her doctor, Dr Pizzutillo from DuPont Institute in Wilmington Delaware, one of the world’s best children’s hospitals. Dr “P” as she refers to him challenged her as a child and helped her see her strong powerful self. He pushed her in ways that connected with Aimee’s natural competitive persona. It can be the presence of one person in a child’s life that can change the road they will take…for Aimee this was Dr “P”. It is because of him Aimee has never seen herself as disabled. This sense of self brought Aimee to compete athletically in high school and college with other “able bodied” athletes. It brought her all the way to the Olympics. When Aimee puts her mind on something she is a force that cannot be stopped. It should also be noted that Aimee is not just another pretty face with athletic abilities. She received a full academic scholarship to Georgetown University in Washington DC. Upon graduation she interned at the Pentagon.
This wonderful and amazing woman I am talking about is Aimee Mullins. Some of you may know her as the first Paralympics’ athlete to run on Carbon Graphite legs; which she did in 1996 in Atlanta. Others may remember her as the beautiful Cheetah in the Cremaster 3 movie by Matthew Barney. She has also been a model for Alexander McQueen the late British fashion designer…Soon the world will know her as the face of L’Oreal Paris in their upcoming promotional ads to be seen around the world in print and on TV. But despite all that she has done what Aimee does best is something that comes quite natural to her. She shows the world that anyone can be whatever they want to be if they are just given the chance. She has personified the notion of finding the opportunity in the face of adversity.
Aimee’s most important job in her life is the advocacy work she does for differently able people. She speaks around the world to the “able bodied” about the importance of seeing ones worth before you see their differences. She has done this for www.ted.com; a lecture series I highly recommend everyone should see. In these lectures she charms the audience with a natural flare of the Aimee I have come to know. She is such a beautiful willow when she walks on stage that one immediately forgets this woman is an amputee. She speaks with such confidence and inspiration that you become captivated by her stories and down to earth sense of the world. But most importantly Aimee makes one look inside one’s self. To evaluate how we see the world of the differently able and treat them accordingly. Soon you begin to question, “Am I being all I can be?” By the time you finish listening to her you want to tell the world what she has said and find a way where you can make a difference…because she certainly has.
Aimee Mullins isn’t who she is because of all she has done….Aimee Mullins has done all she has because of whom she is. Aimee has come to be known for so much but the best role I have seen her in is Aimee. Her spirit is so powerful that long before I knew she was an actress, model, and athlete with no legs…I had the wonderful and rare opportunity to know Aimee for who she really is: as a kind, caring, funny woman. She is the type of woman that other women want to be around. She is as comfortable to be with as your neighbor next door. She is a pleasure to sit and talk with. Like most of my female friends I speak to, we talk about art, life, relationships, and children. In the underlining tone of these conversations with Aimee is the definition that all human beings are created equal…it is how the public treats them that is disabling. To learn more about this extraordinary woman check out: Aimee Mullins
**A special note of appreciation goes to Aimee who provided permission for Debra to write this story for the Café.