I’ve been thinking and thinking about this, chatted with the boys about this, and we’re agreed that ‘Fantastic Friday’ is the title that will cover the posts I have planned for Fridays. The posts will basically be quotes, random photos I take, and inspirational stories I find.
I’ll start with a story I stumbled across, about a remarkable young woman. Jennifer Bricker was born on 1st October 1987 without legs. This birth defect was caused by a uterine band starving her lower limbs of blood. For reasons only truly known to her birth parents, she was put up for adoption. Already the parents of 3 boys, Gerald and Sharon Bricker adopted Jennifer, without even seeing her, when she was 3 months old. Their sons, Greg, Brian and Brad, welcomed their new sister wholeheartedly and with love.
Lack of legs did not prevent Jennifer from reaching the usual developmental milestones. She did have prosthetic legs, from the age of 6 months, and through her growing years, which she mainly wore for special occasions. Ironically, she required help when wearing the prosthetics, and moved much faster and more confidently on her hands and bottom without them.
The one unbreakable rule in the Bricker household was, ‘never say can’t’. And so, Jennifer taught herself to swim; she mastered roller skating on her hands when she was 6; she joined the softball team at 7, and played catcher. By the time she was 10, inspired by her idol, the gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, she took up tumbling. Her brothers taught her how to do front and back flips on the trampoline. Competing in power tumbling for 4 years, Jennifer also won a state championship. In 1998, she competed in the Junior Olympics as a power tumbler, and was placed 4th.
Jennifer and brother Brad, 1998 (Karen Elshout - Post-Dispatch)
Jennifer with her awards (Barcroft)
In 2004, when she was 16, Jennifer asked her parents about her birth family. Nothing could have prepared her for what they told her. Her birth name had been ‘Moceanu’ – she was the biological sister of her childhood idol, Dominique Moceanu!
Dominique Moceanu at the 1996 Olympics, the youngest of the US women's gymnastics team
It wasn’t until 2007 that Jennifer finally got in touch with Dominique, who is 6 years older. She wrote her a long letter, explaining their connection, and included copies of her birth certificate, adoption records, and photos. For Dominique, Jennifer’s resemblance to her younger sister was uncanny. She confronted her parents, and they tearfully confirmed it. Despite her anger, and the tumultuous relationship she had had with her father, Dominique did reconcile with him before his death in 2008. Both sisters have since grown close, along with the youngest, Christina, who was born in 1989. Jennifer has also met with her birth mother, and bears her no ill will.
(L to R) Jennifer, Christina and Dominique (Teri Reza Williams - Post-Dispatch)
Jennifer moved to Los Angeles where she started training as an aerial artist, and has appeared as a star performer in Los Vegas and Dubai. Continuing to perform in aerial arts, she is also a successful speaker.
This amazing young woman believes that life will constantly surprise you if you are open to it, and that what you desire with heart, life will make possible for you.
Jennifer with her parents, Gerald and Sharon
“I hope to inspire and motivate others to believe that anything is truly possible” ~ Jennifer Bricker