It’s been a lonnnng time since we actually had a summer off, but we still catch a case of school’s-out fever every year at this time. So in the spirit of no-work, all-play, we decided to feature amputee kids who are making good use of their vacations. To be sure, these youngsters aren’t entirely carefree—some are recovering from cancer, and all are dealing with the physical and social challenges of limb difference. But they’re still kids—instinctively adaptive, irrepressibly hopeful, and open to the kinds of possibilities that we “drone-ups” (to use my niece’s term) too often dismiss.
We know the universe of awesome limb-different kids is much bigger than these five. We happen to be aware of the youngsters below, but there are thousands more out there who are incredible role models for their elders. If you know one, let us hear about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At just three years old, Mr. Tidd has yet to encounter the joys of school’s-out fever. It’s all school’s-out for him. (Enjoy it while you can, little buddy.) This congenital left-arm amputee has amassed an impressive 125K+ followers on TikTok. Many of those fans discovered Joseph about 18 months ago, when his priceless reaction to meeting an adult with the same limb difference (pro soccer player Carson Pickett) went viral. Joseph’s Harlem Globetrotters ball-spinning video is another favorite. Our personal favorite is the video chronicling JoJo’s adventures on the Planet Obstacle slide.
Abriel “Abri” Bentley
You might know this 13-year-old from Instagram, where she’s racked up 46,000+ followers @teamabri. Perhaps you saw her getting lessons from amputee tap dancer Evan Ruggiero. Or maybe you recognize her from Abercrombie + Fitch’s kids’ catalog, a new picture book about service dogs, or an episode of Nickelodeon’s game show The Crystal Maze. Those are all laudable achievements, but we’re most impressed with Abri’s latest venture as an ambassador for one of our favorite nonprofits, Penta Prosthetics. Penta rounds up used prosthetic components and sends them abroad to serve amputees who would otherwise lack access to any prosthetics at all.
As a global ambassador, Abri will participate in fundraisers, share her story at speaking engagements, and encourage everyone in the limb-difference community to support Penta’s mission. “I like to talk about my leg,” she told her hometown paper earlier this year. I’m proud of my leg. It makes me who I am. And I like who I am.” We like who you are too, Abri.
We first became aware of this 10-year-old cancer fighter last October, when we shared our picks for the best amputee Halloween costumes of 2020. We’ve followed his ups and downs ever since on Instagram @prince_keyair, and here’s why: Prince Key is always smiling, even on tough days. To us, that’s what courage comes down to: looking the demon in the eye and smiling back.
There’s reason to hope that Key’s toughest days are behind him. He’s cancer-free for the first time in almost two years. His hair’s starting to grow back post-chemo. He’s got a supremely handsome service dog named Dexter and a new pair of custom-designed Nike kicks. There’s even fresh video of him climbing the 72 steps to the Philly Art Museum—the same ascent Sly Stallone made famous in Rocky. He’s still two months out from his first ampuversary; there will be more tough days to negotiate and more demons to subdue with smiles. From everything we’ve seen, Ke’Yair is up to the challenge.
When she contracted meningitis as an infant, doctors only gave Harmonie-Rose a 10 percent chance to survive. She beat those odds, and ever since then she’s made it a habit to be governed by what’s possible, not what’s probable. Now seven years old, this quadruple amputee swims, dances, plays soccer, climbs on rock walls, tumbles, and does pretty much everything else a seven-year-old British kid ought to. She also has run in a half-marathon, presented the weather report on ITV, and raised tens of thousands of pounds to fund an accessible playground at her school.
Harmonie-Rose’s story has attracted a huge audience in the UK, with a whopping 115K Instagrammers following her account @hope4harmonie. We get the sense her story is just getting started.
The self-proclaimed “Girl on Blades” struggled to walk for the first few years of her life because of congenital limb difference. Adopted by an American family as a toddler, Hannah had both legs removed below the knee at roughly age five. A few years later she received a pair of running prostheses from Amputee Blade Runners, and that was that: She was off to the races. The 13-year-old cleaned up at the Endeavor Games a couple of weeks ago, winning gold medals in all five of the races she entered.
When she’s not starring on the track, Hannah models for Sprout Kids Agency. In the last year she has scored gigs with major brands such as Disney and Claire’s. We expect to be seeing a lot of this young amputee in the future.