I Believe in My Hands

Allison - Rockford, Michigan
Entered on January 13, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

Our hands are always working, always touching, always in use. We use our hands to talk, to greet one another, to encourage, to hurt and to love. Whether it be driving, eating, writing, typing, or any action in between, our hands are necessary for everything.

My freshman year of high school, I learned the importance of my hand the hard way. I was a flyer on the competitive cheerleading team. I was the girl thrown into the air and on top of the pyramids. One afternoon at practice, a stunt went wrong and my right thumb bent back and touched my forearm. There was a loud pop, a rush of pain, and bursts of tears as my life instantly changed. I tore and stretched the tissues between my thumb and forefinger, which never completely healed. I was told I would not be able to stunt or tumble again without the risk of rendering my dominant hand completely useless. Soon I was cut from the team, and I could no longer partake in my other passions without causing pain: swinging a golf club, strumming a guitar, or writing a short story. My hands had become completely useless, therefore so was I.

After physical therapy, I trained my hand to work sufficiently and I grew accustomed to the constant dull pain. Since athletics became too painful, I searched for alternatives to occupy my time. The path soon led to community service

I fell in love instantly. I joined my school’s community service club and involved myself with as many volunteer opportunities as possible. I felt like I was finally making a difference. The reactions of those I helped were gratifying and had me yearning for more. I have never had much to give, just my love, support, time and oddly enough, my hands. The body part that I saw as only damaged flesh and bone soon became my most important asset. I could help lead a child in Special Olympics, I could sign up donors for blood drives, and I could make meals for the homeless or pick up trash along the road. Once again, my hands gave me a sense of worth. I no longer hid behind my injury, but rather embraced it for what I had discovered. I may not be able to throw gymnastics skills anymore, but I can now offer my hands to help those who are less fortunate.

I believe in my hands and all that they have taught me. At one time, I thought my hands had failed me, but I now realize that my purpose was simply changing. Hands are a symbol of work and intentions. Throughout life, our work changes as well as our purpose and values. Several years ago, cheerleading and other athletics were my job. After my injury, my purpose changed to bringing hope to those in need while service and compassion became my core values. I could not be happier for the change and success my hands have brought me.