Morgan Malkovich Berkeley, CA 33 Votes
Before I begin, there are three things you need to know:
1. I was born with a rare syndrome called C.L.O.V.E.S, which affects me from the waist down. There are only 80 other documented cases, and every person is affected differently.
2. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware I was ‘different,’ but i don’t resent that. Being disabled gives you an extraordinary perspective. I learned to persevere, be patient, watch, listen, and to look past exterior appearances and really see people. I learned to be happy. Not for anybody else’s benefit, but to just be happy for me.
3. When I was 18, I made a decision that changed my life as I knew it – forever.
I’ve been confined to a wheelchair since age 12, but I don’t let my physical challenges hold me back. I’ve always been very active in the community. I’ve taught kids to play wheelchair tennis, spent a day with the mayor showing him the challenges of being handicapped, and I served on the board of Challenge Maui. In high school I had the chance to be president of the Interact Club, and put together several events at the local homeless shelter as well as a prom for disabled teens and adults. I also performed in plays, drove my sister to school, took AP classes, and went to the beach with friends.
In May 2011 I graduated high school – with a full scholarship to Scripps College – eager to begin my adult life. But I had a choice to make. Doctors told me my quality of life would improve with a leg amputation. So I flew from my home on Maui to Boston for the procedure. But things didn’t go as expected.
There were complications. I spent 5 months in ICU fighting to live, and another 16 months recovering in the hospital. My mobility was greatly reduced. I now need specialized equipment just to transfer to a wheelchair. My parents lost their income to become my caregivers. We abandoned our home, our entire lives.
I have began living again, and I want to become involved with my new community. Our family does not have the means to get a van that can accommodate me, so I usually stay home. It is my biggest dream to be able to leave the house whenever I want and to live an active life again.