Hoosier Hero Award

March 2008

Anastasia Powless


Frankton Jr. / Sr. High School

Theresa Lucas

An Everyday Heroine

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to preserve and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles," quoted Christopher Reeves. With that being said, it should be no surprise that, unlike what most people believe today, a hero can be found among a crowd of people that you walk past everyday. In fact, that is where you will find my heroine, Theresa Lucas.

Theresa Lucas is forty-two years old, and was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which is a disorder that causes multiple joint contractures. This disorder has left her with limited mobility in her arms, hands, legs and feet. When she was born, the doctors told her parents that she would never be able to walk, but she proved them wrong. "With the help and encouragement of my family, I walked at age five.  My sister had a lot to do with that, I think she was tired of carrying me!" said Theresa. In addition to the doctors telling her parents that she would not be able to walk, the doctors told them that their daughter would never be able to do anything for herself. Once again defying all odds, Theresa did just that. "I did everything a ‘normal’ child would do growing up like girl scouts, camping trips, and attending basketball games in high school," said Theresa.

Even though she surmounted her obstacles, that alone is not what makes her a true heroine. What makes her a true heroine is the fact that instead of being solely satisfied with her amazing accomplishments of doing the day-to-day activities we take for granted, she wants to achieve more. Inspiringly, this "more" that she wants to achieve involves not wanting to prove people wrong about her disability, but instead to continuously show other children with Arthrogryposis that they do not have a disability, but instead they have a different ability. For Theresa, she has never said that her having Arthrogryposis was a disability, she has also called it her "diffability."

To do this, Theresa has made two videos of herself doing day-to-day things that a child with Arthrogryposis might think of as being impossible. "I was asked many years ago by a new mom of an AMC child to videotape myself doing everyday things so she can see and teach her son, so I did! On the DVD is me, doing everyday things starting with getting out of bed, washing hair, shaving, dressing, makeup, eating, shopping, cleaning, painting, massage, yard work, laundry, putt putt, typing on computer, scrap booking, playing video games, dancing, exercising, etc..." quoted Theresa. As simple as it sounds to make a video of yourself doing day-to-day things, for someone with Arthrogryposis it is inspirational. To the kids she makes it for, it is motivational!

Incredible as all that sounds, Theresa still does more to motivate kids with and without Arthrogryposis. You see, growing up, Theresa found a love for art. This love for art drove her to learn how to paint despite not being able to use her fingers. With determination, Theresa taught herself how to paint with her mouth. Being able to express herself through art gave her a sense of pride, and she wanted other children to be able to have that same feeling. That is why she joined the Art Association of Madison County.

Another reason Theresa became involved in the Art Association of Madison County was because she wanted to let high school students know that sports were not the only way to get involved in school and with peers. Many students need to express themselves in different ways. That is why Theresa and other members of the Art Association have an annual art show for high school students in Madison County. This art show is funded by donations made by citizens who find supporting students and their art very important. Last year, they had to lower the number of entries each person could make because they ran out of room. Art to Theresa was a way for her to express her herself and her feelings growing up, and she wants all kids to understand that their art is always appreciated, and knowing that would allow them to value themselves and their artwork more.

Along with bringing art into the light for high school students, Theresa also finds it important for kids with disabilities to know that art is still an option for them. That is why she became vice-president of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita Support, Inc. (AMCSI) Convention is held every year, and it is a chance for kids with Arthrogryposis and their parents to get together. People come from all over the country to attend this convention. While at this convention, these kids are able to talk with other kids that understand what they are going through, and are able to listen to different guest speakers. In addition to this, the convention has different workshops for both the children and the parents. It brings hope into the kids’ life to know that they are not alone in their struggles, and that all things are still possible.

While at the convention, Theresa also has the kids do different art projects. These kids, despite their disabilities, find different ways in which they can express themselves. When they paint, some children use their mouths like Theresa, while others find it easier to use their feet. No matter how they paint, Theresa just wants them to know that their disability, like mentioned before, is simply a "diffability."

For all these reasons and more, Theresa Lucas is my heroine. I admire the fact that with her family’s love and support, she was able to defy all odds. Also admirable is that even with all of her accomplishments in life; she gives most of the credit to her family. She is and will always be forever grateful to have been blessed with a family whose beliefs and faith over-powered what medical science said the future held for her. Theresa is an incredibly motivating person, because out of all the struggles she had growing up, she has not once said to me that she wishes things would have been different. People today see someone who is disabled or handicapped, and automatically feel sorry for them. We think that because of how they are, life will be less enjoyable or meaningful for them. Let me tell you, that that is not the case.

Knowing Theresa has taught me that having a disability does not mean they would have a life that is less fulfilled. Disabled people are able to have vast dreams without being left with a feeling that those dreams won’t be accomplished because of their disability. Having a disability simply means that they have been blessed with a "diffability." Theresa’s overwhelming accomplishments revolving around her disability, and her incredible contributions to our community has inspired me to have bigger ambitions for myself and for others. That is why Theresa Lucas is my Hoosier Heroine.


© Copyright 2023.  Theresa Lucas All rights reserved.

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