From a girl who lost both legs, Shepherd, 17, is now a model and potential Paralympic athlete.
Haven Shepherd lost 2 legs when his birth parents committed suicide with explosives because they believed their adultery would not be accepted by society. Fortunately, Haven survived with no more legs.
Born in Vietnam as Do Thi Phuong, she was taken to an orphanage by her grandparents because she was too poor to raise her grandchild.
Twenty months old, Haven was adopted by the Shepherd family from Missouri (USA).
She has since learned to use prosthetic legs and got attached to swimming at the age of 10. Shortly thereafter, she became a swimmer on the US Paralympic Games team.
“When I was a kid, listening to people talking about why I had lost my legs, I felt it was normal and very possible with others. But as I got older I realized that I was probably the only one in this situation.
“I tell people the truth, that my parents were adulterous, gave birth to me, and they thought no one would accept it. As a result, my legs were lost after my parents committed suicide.
Haven says her adoptive parents have always supported her and taught her not to lack the confidence in using prosthetic legs.
“I remember watching girls play basketball, I thought I couldn’t play the sport because I had no legs, but my sister told me to try it.”
“She told me not to sit in the chair and regretted her loss. At that point, I thought she was really mean, but this statement helped me a lot.
Haven has taken part in the sport since then. When she found out that she was a good swimmer, a lot of people were surprised.
“What I love most about swimming is removing my prosthetic legs and enjoying the comfort in the water. I was in my own world ”.
In addition to swimming, Haven also learned to model. “I started to learn to model after realizing that a lot of people weren’t happy with themselves. I want to show them that being different is normal. ”
Haven wants people to see the differences in a positive way. “The variety of life is a good thing. If I feel comfortable they can do that too.
Mr. and Mrs. Shelly and Rob Shephard discovered Haven through Touch A Life for Homeless Children in 2005. Ms. Shelly – the mother of seven – shared: “We were told what happened. Go out with Haven. We also know that her grandparents are too poor to support her.
Although Mr. Rob was initially reluctant to adopt a child, he immediately fell in love with her.
“Haven won’t even take a nap unless he hugs him.” Over time, she made us realize that she chose us, and not having legs isn’t that big of a deal.
Shelly said she was a little nervous about telling Haven what happened to her, but in the end she was able to make that story a part of Haven’s life.
Haven was told by Shelly’s mother about her life when she was 5 years old. After listening to it, she commented: “Wow, that’s stupid”.
At first, the Shelly and her husband intended to teach their disabled daughter the piano instead of letting her learn the sport, but Haven’s dream of becoming an athlete stood out more than their other children.
Not only living off his passion, Haven also regularly visits hospitals, encourages people with disabilities to accept their flaws, to overcome fate in order to live optimistically.