Qian Hongyan from the Chinese province Yunnan is just 3 years old when her life changes forever. A huge truck hits the child and crushes everything below her waist. "I saw it at the last second, I stood on the other side of the street and couldn't do anything," tells her mother Zhou Huan-Ping. "The image of my little girl disappearing underneath these huge wheels that were bigger than her, will haunt me for the rest of my life."
So that Qian survives, the doctors must amputate both legs as well as remove her hipbones and her bottom ribs. She is only left with a stump as an upper body. But, her poor parents do not have the money to give her expensive prosthetics. Yet her great need inspires her grandfather to be inventive. He cuts open a basketball, places the girl inside and gives her 2 pieces of wood for handgrips. Using the grips, the girl can move on her own again!
"I woke up and my legs felt ice cold," remembers Qian. "I asked my mom if she coud put my shoes on. She didn't say anything, but I felt her tears fall on my face. Then I knew that I would never need socks or shoes again in this life, or pants. I'm walking with a basketball!"
In her village, they call her the "Basketball Girl." Thanks to the internet, the story of the brave girl becomes known all over the country. And at the age of 12, something happens that Qian never thought would be possible: she has legs for the first time again! Donations have given her specially designed prosthetics.
But for her final performance she doesn't need legs at all. The young girl joins a swimming club for disabled children, the first of its kind in China. "I had to try so much harder to learn to swim than the other kids," remembers Qian. "It was like I couldn't float, I kept sinking." But the former "Basketball Girl" refused to give up. And 2 years after first learning to swim, she wins the 2009 national swimming championship for disabled children! Her first gold medal! Qian trains over 4 hours a day and dreams of winning at the Paralympics one day.
Unbelievable what the girl without legs has accomplished! And even when the now 20-year-old woman is so excited about her new prosthetics, she still hasn't sworn off her basketball: "It's much easier to get out of the pool with it!"
Qian Hongyan is an inspiration for us all. The Chinese girl did not let herself be defined by her difficult fate and has followed her own path with utmost determination - whether on prosthetics or on a cut-open basketball. When this story also impressed you as much as it did me, then share it with everyone that you know!
You can watch her super inspiring story below.