The newest celebrity in the amputee pantheon isn’t an athlete, actor, or creative artist. Her greatest achievement in life so far? Learning how to roll over onto her tummy.
But that’s all about to change for eight-month-old Isa Slish, who last month was named the winner of Gerber’s annual photo contest—the first limb-different baby ever to win the honor. A congenital amputee with fibular hemimelia in her right leg, Isa will spend the next 12 months helping Gerber optimize its sales while also serving as an unofficial disability ambassador to the nation.
Seems like a heavy burden to put on any amputee, especially one who’s barely knee-high to a C-Leg. Is she up for it? Her parents certainly are: “We hope Isa’s story can bring more awareness for limb differences and create greater inclusion for children like her,” Isa’s mom, Meredith Slish, said on the Today show. “She was chosen for her wonderful personality, her smile, her cheeks, her giggles, but also as a baby who represents diversity.”
Here’s the rest of what you need to know about this intrepid infant:
1. She’s from a community with a great support system for amputees.
The Slishes live in Edmonds, Oklahoma, a northern suburb of Oklahoma City. Edmonds hosts one of the nation’s most prominent adaptive sports events, the Endeavor Games, and serves as headquarters to the US Sitting Volleyball Team (both men’s and women’s). The OK City metro area also boasts a world-renowned prosthetist (Scott Sabolich), innovative socket manufacturer (Martin Bionics), and limb-loss nonprofit (the Limbs for Life Foundation).
2. Isa’s limb difference was a key reason the Slishes entered the Gerber contest.
“We wanted to use this as a way to help raise awareness for children born with limb differences,” Meredith told Today. “We hope she can be kind of the baby that other children with limb differences look at and say, ‘There’s somebody like me who is portrayed in media.'” “The overarching message for her story is representation matters,” added Isa’s dad, John, who wore an orange Limb Difference Awareness ribbon during the Today appearance.
3. The family learned of Isa’s limb difference halfway through the pregnancy.
An ultrasound at week 18 revealed the baby’s anatomical condition, enabling the Slishes to do some homework in advance. “[The doctors] gave us some resources and educated us on [limb difference], and we did some of our own research, John told Today. “When she was born, we were met with more medical teams coming through and just discussing options, available ideas that are out there. She currently sees a specialist at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City. We’re just taking it in and processing it day by day.”
4. She already ranks among the most famous people named “Isa” who ever lived.
The most prominent Isa we could find is Isa Miranda, an Italian actress who was dubbed “the Italian Marelene Dietrich” and appeared with Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and other screen luminaries of the mid-20th century. Of more recent vintage, Isa Chandra Moskowitz has built a large audience as a vegan chef and proprietor of Post Punk Kitchen. And the singer Michael Bolton named one of his kids Isa, so there’s that.
5. “Isa” has biblical connotations.
We’re not sure if “Isa” is the baby’s full name, or if that’s short for “Isabel,” “Isabella,” or another name. If it’s the former, her name means “salvation of the Lord” in Hebrew and “God is my salvation” in Arabic, according to familyeducation.com. If the birth certificate reads “Isabel” or “Isabella,” her name translates to “consecrated to God.”