Every edition of the Paralympics tells us inspirational stories of several athletes who’ve battled hardships throughout their lives.
Take Haven Shepherd for example.
Born Do Thi Thuy Phuong in Vietnam, she was only 14 months old when her parents, who were having an extramarital affair, tied a bomb to her and held her in their arms in the hope that all three would die.
Shepherd’s parents were killed but she survived. However, she sustained severe injuries which resulted in her lower legs being amputated.
Six months following the incident, Shepherd was adopted by her current parents, Rob and Shelly, who hail from Carthage, Missouri.
She was given a pair of Ossur feet and started running before beginning to compete in swimming as well. The latter sport has become Shepherd’s forte as that’s where she will participate in the Tokyo Paralympics.
The teenager has done quite well in past tournaments, having clinched first place in the 50m and 100m freestyle events at the 2018 World Para Swimming World Series while winning three medals at the Parapan American Games at Lima in 2019.
In the Tokyo Paralympics, Shepherd will be competing and has said that she does not expect too much from herself. The 18-year-old said:
“My goals here (in Tokyo) are to be myself and have fun. I am not going to come with high expectations of myself, because if you set yourself such high expectations you are always going to be disappointed.”
Apart from being an athlete, Shepherd is also a model and a spokeswoman for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Having been through so many hardships, the 18-year-old keeps inspiring us like so many other athletes who compete at the Paralympics.
While Shepherd’s biological parents damaged her, her adoptive parents gave her a second chance at experiencing love and family.
The most impressive part about the 18-year-old is her attitude, how she always looks at the positives. Shepherd said:
“You always have to look at the positive in life: I know I had a very bad circumstance, but I went out and had that second chance.
“I have accepted being unique and that has made a difference in my life. Accept the things that you cannot change and change the things you can.”
Shepherd is a credit to herself and her family and there’s no doubt that she will inspire many in the future.
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