There is a story about a Romanian girl who was born with no legs . . . and was left at the hospital by her parents.
A couple from middle America adopted her and instilled in her love and one prohibition: Never say the word can’t!
Since they adopted her as an new born infant, that message was buried deeply within her and it reverberated throughout the rest of her life.
Her name is Jennifer Bricker and she became a champion gymnast. That’s right, a gymnast.
As she was growing up, she saw Dominique Moceanu win the Olympic gymnastic competition at the age of 14 and she was immediately attracted to her. Actually, she was mesmerized by her and she vowed at an early age to emulate her and become a gymnast, too. Did I mention, she has no legs? But she also had been imbued with the admonition to never say “can’t.”
So she started training and after many spills and attempts, she became a bone fide gymnast and eventually won school championships for gymnastics – not as a disabled person, but as a full-fledged gymnast against other gymnasts.
After the age of 16, she asked her mother if there was anything she had not told her about her natural parents and she responded “yes” and told her she had discovered that Dominique was actually her natural sister. Jennifer contacted Dominique by mail and laid out all the proof she had and they were eventually reunited.
Perhaps the most interesting part is that Dominque had a terrible relationship with her father, who pushed her to achieve greatness as a champion gymnast by hitting her and cursing her and generally intimidating her.
Meanwhile, Jennifer had grown up in a loving and respectful family who had taught her that she could do anything – as long as she never said “can’t.”
To this day, Jennifer does not think of herself as handicapped or disabled. In fact, she remarked that she “feels terrible taking someone else’s parking spot who really needs it” since she does not see herself as disabled in any way.
She has made a life for herself performing, using her abilities as a gymnast on stage and lives by herself in Hollywood. She stays in touch with her family and her sisters now and they only wish they had grown up in a family like Jennifer’s who demonstrate such love and acceptance. When asked, Jennifer says “it was all perfect” about her life. I agree. Everything is always in perfect order – except in our mind’s judgment.
I have carried around a poem in my wallet entitled “Can’t” (author unknown)for over 30 years ( I had to use a magnifying lens to read it because it is so faded . . . and I don’t like the use of the word “hated” but the overall idea is perfect) which goes like this:
Can’t is a word that is foe to ambition
an enemy ambush to shatter your will.
It’s prey is forever a man with a mission,
and bows but to patience, courage and skill.
So hate it with hatred that’s deep and undying.
For once it is welcomed, ’twill break any man.
So whatever the goal you are seeking,
and answer the demon by saying “I can.”
Apparently, that small child’s adoptive parents knew the message of that poem many years ago and they instilled it in their so-called disabled child. She never sees herself as disabled to this day.
She is a tribute to positive conditioning of the mind to achieve greatness. As the interviewer said, she made him embarrassed to complain about anything in his life after seeing her.
Both children achieved greatness, but the one who won the Olympics eventually emancipated herself from her parents. Meanwhile, Jennifer’s family is intact and is a beautiful example of love in action every day. . . and Dominque visits them often.