Though A Family Tapestry is dedicated to weaving the strands that create one specific extended family, from time to time, we are reminded that who we are is not solely the function of our familial roots. Often, we are shaped and influenced by many significant others in our lives.
Instead of writing about my family’s past today, I want to talk about one of those other families which have been a part of our family’s present. And I’d like to pass along a story about that family’s courage to not only overcome challenges, but succeed in their quest in a spectacular way.
We’ve spent many school years with this particular family, as both our families participated in many homeschool activities. Together, we went through years of rigorous preparation for speech and debate competitions as their son and our daughter participated in the same club. We all struggled through years of lessons in French—although, admittedly, I was more handicapped as a language coach for my daughter than this other mom was for her children.
Our daughters even shared the same birth day, though not year—and we used to laugh about our girls being birthday twins.
While we shared many small victories as our children were growing up, one step along the way was not a cause for celebration. By the time their daughter turned twelve, our friends received word that she had severe scoliosis. Though they tried to seek alternatives, it became apparent after a diligent search that there was no recourse but to face a long and risky surgery.
The diagnosis and treatment alone seemed daunting, but there was more to this story than the usual fears parents hold on behalf of their children. In this family’s case, their two children were winning accolades for their accomplishments in swim tournaments. Their daughter, in particular, was breaking local records and being noticed by significant representatives of the athletic world.
To undergo something as serious as this surgery would involve significant setbacks in this young athlete’s training.
To not submit to the treatment would surely present obstacles as well.
Young Natalie underwent surgery in 2011, followed by extensive therapy. After that hiatus, she returned to athletic training, not only in swimming, but in preparation to compete in an event known as the Pentathlon.
An endurance sport as well as a strenuous test of a wide variety of skills, the Pentathlon calls for excellence in fencing, marksmanship, equestrianism, running, as well as swimming.
Ten months after her surgery, Natalie was already winning national championships. Just a few days ago, Natalie became the 2013 National Youth Champion in Modern Pentathlon.
Achieving this award means Natalie is qualified to compete in Wuhan, China, for the World Championships.
To have achieved such an honor is notable in itself, but in Natalie’s case, it is a testimony to her resilience and fortitude in the face of such a personal health struggle. I remember when Natalie’s mom showed me her x-rays from before and after surgery. The twists and curves in her spine were unbelievable—the resulting repair amazing. That this extensive surgery did not negatively impact her athletic training was astounding.
There is one more challenge facing Natalie as she prepares to make history in China: she needs the help of many others to partner with her in sending her to the World Championships.
Our family, of course, has helped, as have others who know Natalie’s family. As the word spreads from swim teammates and former classmates, people are rallying to help send Natalie to China.
Natalie’s brother, Daniel, tells her story in a post and a video at indiegogo, a website dedicated to helping people raise funding for causes such as this.
On behalf of Natalie’s family, I’d be honored if you would consider becoming a small part of sending this talented young athlete to a competition of this importance. Please visit the “Send Natalie to Worlds” website, watch the video on Natalie, read her brother’s story and pass the word along to others.
With a talent and a story as compelling as Natalie’s, you get the feeling she is on the verge of making history.
Thank you for spending some time here to read Natalie’s story. And thank you for taking part in allowing her to participate in this remarkable opportunity!