By Alyce Collins
AFTER CONTRACTING meningitis as a baby this woman lost her legs and fingertips, but she is silencing doubters who think she can’t do something because she’s an AMPUTEE by becoming a FOOTBALLER.
Student, Pamela Reynolds (19) from South Carolina, USA, was 10 months old when she had what her parents initially believed was a sinus infection, until her condition became worse as her fever increased, and her fingertips and toes turned black.
Pamela was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that she had meningitis, but the severity of her case resulted in her feet being amputated and nine of her fingertips being amputated at 10 months old.
Pamela became a below the knee amputee before she could learn to walk. When she was nine years old, Pamela underwent a revision amputation on her left leg which was followed by a revision of her right leg in December 2016.
Pamela grew up believing that she could do everything that those around her were doing, but she just had to work out an alternative method of achieving it. She now studies at Pennsylvania State University where she’s on the women’s football team, which many might have considered impossible for a double amputee, but Pamela hopes her ability can inspire others.
Pamela has always refused to let being an amputee make her feel inferior, and when she encounters stares or comments, she uses this as an opportunity to educate those people by showing them that she is equally as capable of accomplishing something as those around her.
Through sharing her positive message, Pamela aims to encourage others not to give up when people doubt them because her determination has allowed her to continue thriving in spite of her amputations.
“I was 10 months old when I first became ill, but what started out as a sinus infection soon became worse,” said Pamela.
“I had a really high fever and my fingertips and toes started to turn black. It was meningitis taking over my body and my extremities needed to be amputated quickly if I stood a chance.
“I had my feet – below the ankles – and nine of my fingertips amputated while just 10 months old. When I was nine years old, I then had a revision amputation on my left leg. I had my right leg revision in December 2016.
“Since everything happened when I was so young, not having legs and fingertips has never seemed weird to me. I always knew I was capable of doing everything that all of the other kids could do, but I just had to figure out my own way to do it.
“It made me feel like I was different, but it wasn’t a big deal to me because I grew up around the same group of people my entire life – people who would never let me think that I wasn’t equal to them.
“In my opinion, you should never try to hide something that you can’t change. I’ve learned throughout my life to embrace my amputations. It’s something that I can’t hide, so when I was younger, I was always worried it would have an impact how guys viewed me and stop me from dating, but guys are more accepting than you would think.”
Pamela hopes to show other men and women with disabilities that they should believe in themselves and not give up on their aspirations because of the restrictions that other people place on them.
Since she was a young girl, playing sport, especially football, was a big dream for Pamela, and she is now fulfilling that dream by playing for her university football team.
“Sharing my story on Instagram has helped me connect with people and learn their stories too,” said Pamela.
“I always tell people to love themselves and never give up on their dreams. I never thought I would be where I am today, but hard work and dedication can achieve any dream.
“I’ve faced doubters, but the only time I let my amputation slow me down is when I’m going through airport security. At any other time, I like to think I’m just like everyone around me.
“No matter what people think or say about you, nice or not, the only opinion that matters about yourself is your own. Love yourself no matter what – I love my body, scars and all.
“When you go through things in life, all that matters is your mind set, and I had two choices: I could sit around and feel sorry for myself or I could live life to my full ability. I have no problem with my legs, and the way I see it is you can’t hate something you can’t change.
“I’ve had to deal with other people’s awkward stares and reactions to my prosthetics, but sometimes people automatically assume that just because I don’t have feet that I can’t do things. But my body can do what anyone else’s can do. So next time you meet an amputee, treat them like a normal person because that’s exactly what we are.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/preynolds_