When Someone at a Restaurant Used the Word 'Crippled' After Seeing My Daughter


I work at a restaurant on Sundays. Yesterday I brought my daughter Charlie-Anne with me for a half-hour before her dad came to pick her up. He had dinner and took her home. On the way out Charlie yelled, “I’ll miss you!” I yelled back, “I’ll miss you too!”

Another table saw Charlie and the woman looked sad, and was frowning. She said to her friends, “Aww, I just feel so sad for that little girl.” Her friend responded, “Well, at least she’s out and about.” And then the first woman went on to say, “I once knew this ‘crippled’ guy…”

Ugh. I cannot stand that word. I despise it. Their whole conversation just aggravated me. Charlie is doing so much more than “just getting by” and “getting out there.”

It can be hard being a fly on the wall in your own life — to see the way people think of you by the obvious sad looks on their faces. I know people don’t mean to be hurtful, but I just wish they knew Charlie’s story.

I wish they knew that next month she will be turning 9 after being told she wouldn’t see 1.

I wish they knew she has fought 100 sicknesses in the hospital and has had many close calls but is always smiling.

I wish they knew she is the best reader in her class in her third grade class.

I wish they knew Charlie has a sassy sense of humor beyond her years and she slays at geography – so much so, she could teach everyone a thing or two.

I wish they knew she’s been to Hawaii and LA and she goes to Earl’s happy hour with her mom often, where everyone knows her.

I wish they knew Charlie is a Canuck Place Children’s Hospice Spokeskid and is the reason the Charlie’s Angels group has raised over $175,000 for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Canuck Place.

If they knew all of that, they wouldn’t feel sorry for her, they’d feel proud of her.

My daughter is not a “cripple.” She is a warrior.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Spinal Muscular Atrophy

I Want My Daughter to Be Remembered the Way She Saw Herself: Happy

Gwendolyn drew this. It was her first grade self-portrait. She chose to include her bipap, her butterfly bow, her long hair and a striped shirt. She also chose the words, “I am happy.” This was all Gwendolyn. No guiding or pushing in this direction. Other kids chose things like “I am a sister.” or “I [...]
Maylan getting her makeup done.

Keeping My Face Toward the Sunshine as a Young Woman With Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Once upon a time, in a land 90 miles away… and 22 years ago, a smile incarnate was born. I, Maylan Chavez, came into this planet with sunshine in my veins. Along with it, by some twist of fate, came the genetic mutation for spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease which was diagnosed after [...]
Disabled woman in a wheelchair on the beach.

Why I Don't Mind Being an Inspiration as a Person With a Disability

“I am not your inspiration.” This is a phrase that is becoming increasingly popular among the disabled community. But if I’m being honest, I couldn’t disagree more. It’s not that I don’t understand where people are coming from. I most definitely do. After living for nearly 20 years with a rare neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular [...]
Joe with his family.

I’m an Adult. Talk to Me Like One.

by Joe Akmakjian I’m a 25-year-old college graduate. I’m an adult and I can prove it. I have bills, grown-up responsibilities and the obligation to do things I don’t want to do. Still, regardless of the date of birth listed on my Colorado State ID, some people still treat me like a kid. Unfortunately, a [...]