Qian Hongyan from the Chinese
province Yunnan is just 3 years old when her life changes forever. A huge truck
hits the child and crushes everything below her waist. "I saw it at the
last second, I stood on the other side of the street and couldn't do
anything," tells her mother Zhou Huan-Ping. "The image of my little
girl disappearing underneath these huge wheels that were bigger than her, will
haunt me for the rest of my life."
So that Qian survives, the doctors
must amputate both legs as well as remove her hipbones and her bottom ribs. She
is only left with a stump as an upper body. But, her poor parents do not have
the money to give her expensive prosthetics. Yet her great need inspires her
grandfather to be inventive. He cuts open a basketball, places the girl inside
and gives her 2 pieces of wood for handgrips. Using the grips, the girl can
move on her own again!.
"I woke up and my legs felt ice
cold," remembers Qian. "I asked my mom if she coud put my shoes on.
She didn't say anything, but I felt her tears fall on my face. Then I knew that
I would never need socks or shoes again in this life, or pants. I'm walking
with a basketball!"
In her village, they call her the
"Basketball Girl." Thanks to the internet, the story of the brave
girl becomes known all over the country. And at the age of 12, something
happens that Qian never thought would be possible: she has legs for the first
time again! Donations have given her specially designed prosthetics.
But for her final performance she
doesn't need legs at all. The young girl joins a swimming club for disabled
children, the first of its kind in China. "I had to try so much harder to
learn to swim than the other kids," remembers Qian. "It was like I
couldn't float, I kept sinking." But the former "Basketball
Girl" refused to give up. And 2 years after first learning to swim, she
wins the 2009 national swimming championship for disabled children! Her first
gold medal! Qian trains over 4 hours a day and dreams of winning at the
Paralympics one day.
Unbelievable what the girl without
legs has accomplished! And even when the now 20-year-old woman is so excited
about her new prosthetics, she still hasn't sworn off her basketball:
"It's much easier to get out of the pool with it!"
Qian Hongyan is an inspiration for us
all. The Chinese girl did not let herself be defined by her difficult fate and
has followed her own path with utmost determination - whether on prosthetics or
on a cut-open basketball. When this story also impressed you as much as it did
me, then share it with everyone that you know!