Some people are born inspiring, as was the case of 17-year-old Molly Smith who proved things are only impossible if you choose not to try. Smith was born with Roberts Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder that is characterized by limb and facial abnormalities such as cleft lip or hypomelia, shortened arm and leg bones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Smith uses prosthetic legs called “stubbies,” a pink power wheelchair and a walker to get around. Her arms are short and she only has three fingers on each hand. None of these challenges stop Smith from writing, feeding herself, typing on a computer and doing things she enjoys such as drawing and dancing. “I really like to tap dance,” Smith said. “It’s really my favorite thing.”
For the past seven years, she has been dancing at the Jessamine School of Classical Dance. When Smith first started at the studio, she was not strong physically, said Mindy Jackson, dance instructor at the Jessamine School of Classical Dance. “She was not able to stand for very long without help and needed an assistant just for her during class,” Jackson said. Smith refused to give up, and she kept at it until she was able to not only stand without her prosthetics, but also dance. Now Smith has new prosthetics that allow her to wear dance shoes and also walk and dance with the aid of a walker.
Because of her many achievements, refusal to give up and her fiery spirit, Smith received the Kentucky Council for Exceptional Children Yes I Can Award at Monday night’s school board meeting. The award came as a big surprise to Smith because she was told she would be the one giving the award to a teacher. The astonishment was clearly written on her face as her friends, family, teachers and other lives she’s touched smiled through tears as her many achievements were discussed. “I was trying to hold back my tears, and I just couldn’t,” Smith said. “It was touching.” Lauren Jones is the teacher at East Jessamine High who nominated Smith, a Junior, in May this year for the award. “It was easy to do,” said Jones. “She is very deserving.” Jones said Smith has performed in at least two dance recitals each year for the past several years. “She wont deny that this practice results in discomfort, but as any good dancer would agree, it is a small price to pay to be able to participate,” Jones said. Though dance is her biggest passion, Smith also sings in Chorus and takes an art class, impacting everyone she meets along the way.
“Molly knows no stranger and will talk nonstop to anyone within earshot,” Jones said.” This trait among many others has allowed her to develop relationships with students and adults throughout our school district and community. Her positive outlook on life and her refusal to let her challenges prevent her from doing anything she loves inspires everyone who crosses her path.” Now that Smith has won the Yes I Can award, she will soon compete on a national level in Louisville were she will also enjoy a special awards ceremony and a big dinner with her family. She works so hard on everything she does, Smith’s father Andrew Smith said. “I just feel privileged to be her father,” Smith’s father Andrew Smith said as he choked back tears of happiness.
Superintendent Kathy Fields said she was principal at Nicholasville Elementary when Smith attended there. Fields said she remembers that though Smith was still getting used to her prosthetic legs she refused to be treated differently than anyone else. “She is one of the most unique young women that I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of her life,” Fields said. Now the two enjoy conversations about shoes and clothes in passing. “She’s one of a kind,” Fields said. Now Smith has new prosthetics that allow her to wear dance shoes and also walk and dance with the aid of a walker.
Jones said Smith has performed in at least two dance recitals each year for the past several years. "She won’t deny that this practice results in discomfort, but as any good dancer would agree, it is a small price to pay to be able to participate,” Jones said. Though dance is her biggest passion, Smith also sings in chorus and takes an art class.
To read the entire article about Molly's achievements please go to the Jessamine Journal Web page: