“You can still do anything your friends can do. Missing a limb doesn’t define who you are. Enjoy life and be the best you, you can be.”
Amanda Heller has aspirations of becoming a chef—and she won’t let anything get in the way of it, even if that means standing all day on a prosthesis.
She was born with VACTERL Association. VACTERL Association is a nonrandom association of birth defects. The name itself is an acronym that stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, trachea-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities. If someone is diagnosed with VACTERL, they typically have at least three of these characteristic features. For Amanda, this means that her right foot is missing three toes and the other two are “stuck” together, her right hand is missing the middle finger, and her left leg is absent below the knee.
When Amanda was looking for a new prosthetist, she visited a few different places, but was not satisfied with what she originally found. Then, she met Matt at Bulow and immediately felt understood. Matt knew exactly what Amanda needed based on their conversation.
A year ago, Amanda graduated high school and went on to attend culinary school at Nashville State Community College. At first, she was nervous about standing for several hours at a time, but she didn’t end up having any major issues with her prosthesis. Amanda was able to have an “amazing” year full of learning new skills and making new friends.
Even in her free time, Amanda doesn’t let long hours of standing hold her back. She still spends time standing in the kitchen to cook and bake, and she loves to dance. According to her friends, Amanda is the life of the party.
With a lifetime of adversity already under her belt, Amanda encourages amputees to, “Never give up. Don’t EVER be afraid to try new things. If you never try new things, then you will miss out on so many experiences and memories! You can still do anything your friends can do. Missing a limb doesn’t define who you are. Enjoy life and be the best you, you can be.”