At first glance, Hannah Aspden is a tall and athletic 10 year old with blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. The fact that she was born prematurely and missing her entire left leg, doesn’t slow her down. A fifth-grader at North Raleigh Christian Academy, her wry sense of humor, confident stance, and frequent smiles inspire everyone she meets.
Hannah was born with what is called a congenital hip disarticulation. She has no leg at all on her left side. Her parents, Jennifer and TJ Aspden, believe their daughter was born to overcome challenges. “From the beginning, we decided to let Hannah be independent and to give her every opportunity to succeed,” her father said.
As Hannah grew stronger, her fighting spirit emerged when she tried to take her first steps and simply fell down. Her parents decided to try using a prosthetic to help her walk and saw immediate success. When she was just four, Hannah saw her older brother jump of the diving board and decided to give it a try. She came up swimming and has been a swimmer ever since.
She confidently competes on the same level as her peers and recently returned from her first international competition, the U.S. Paralympics Spring Nationals/2011 Spring Can-Am Meet. It was the first time Hannah saw other athletes with disabilities like hers. “It was cool. Everyone had something different, but we didn’t see each other for their disabilities because everyone was like that,” Hannah said. “I saw how others deal with their challenges and saw that they were all just glad to be there and happy.”
Hannah has been able to turn her disability into a strength. She has tremendous core strength and upper body power and although she uses a prosthetic some of the time, she mostly gets around on crutches and by hopping. With inspirational perseverance, she appreciates her unique qualities and uses them to her advantage.
We are inspired by Hannah’s enthusiastic and determined mindset and wanted to tell her story so she can continue to encourage others with similar disabilities. Who inspires you?