It sounds like the saddest, most tragic story ever: a baby born without legs and then abandoned by her birth parents because of her defect. How could she ever have a successful, happy life or be loved?
Jennifer Bricker is quite loved, successful, and happy. She was adopted as an infant and raised in a loving household in a small town in Illinois.
The Brickers raised their adopted daughter the same way they raised their three biological sons: with an attitude of no limitations. “’Can’t’ is not part of your vocabulary. If you just put your mind to it, you can do it,” Jennifer says. “Can’t” was a word that was not allowed in the Bricker household.
So what happened when, as a young child, Jennifer decided she wanted to be a tumbler? Her idol was Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu. But how could a girl with no legs become an athlete?
Jennifer started at age seven, bouncing on the trampoline with her father. Pretty soon, she was doing competitive tumbling. And by high school, she achieved the status of tumbling champion for the entire state of Illinois. She pursued other sports as well, such as baseball and basketball.
While in high school, as she enjoyed her life of competitive gymnastics and other sports, Jennifer, curious about her adoption, asked her mother about her biological family. And this is when Jennifer received the most shocking revelation of her life: Her birth last name was Moceanu.
Jennifer wrote a letter to her childhood idol Dominique Moceanu telling Dominique that she was her inspiration to pursue gymnastics–and that she was her sister. Dominique, an Olympic gold medalist, recognized the heart of a champion in her long-lost sister, especially when she learned that Jennifer had accomplished all this without having legs.
“How did she have this attitude to persevere in life and overcome every obstacle?” Dominique asked herself.
This is what can happen when you’re taught to live without saying “can’t.” Jennifer doesn’t consider herself to be handicapped. In fact, she says she uses a wheelchair to get around simply to keep from getting dirty.
Today Jennifer is living on her own, in Hollywood, no less. She has her own apartment, drives her own car, and makes a living for herself as a gymnast and acrobat. She’s toured with Britney Spears and performed at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Jennifer’s parents couldn’t be happier or more proud of their strong, independent daughter. Whether you’re an Olympic gold medalist or a small-town girl born without legs, your limitations in life are determined by your attitude. This is what life can be like when you never say the word “can’t.”
Watch Jennifer’s story:
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