Published on Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
Imagine doing simple tasks without the use of your arms, it seems impossible but a mother and son duo have been doing it all their lives. Linda Bannon was born without arms which resulted from a rare hereditary condition called Holt-Oram syndrome, which affects bone growth and can cause heart problems. Despite having no hands though, the resilient woman never let her condition stop her from leading a happy and fulfilling life, and she has passed on that amazing spirit to her son too.
Linda has tried using prosthetic limbs before but she stopped because they felt very uncomfortable and instead decided to teach herself how to do everything by using her feet. Her son has also followed in her footsteps and the 35-year-old mother’s strong fortitude can clearly be seen reflected back in 9-year-old Timmy. Timmy was also born without arms, and together, Linda and him carry out their daily activities using only their feet.
Linda does everything you would expect a normal mum to be able to do. She makes the beds, cooks, washes up and cleans the house. Linda has also taught herself how to sew, eat with cutlery, and put on make-up all with her feet. Like her, Timmy has not allowed his condition to get in the way of him living a normal life. Timmy swims, regularly attends taekwondo classes, uses the computer, and plays video games like any boy his age – using his toes to grip the controller.
“Timmy is just like any other little boy,” Linda said. “He does his homework, plays Lego and tidies his room, all using his feet.”
“He gets frustrated by things like fastening buttons, but he's very positive and I'm so proud of him,” she continued. “I knew from scans he was going to be born without arms. We were understandably concerned, but I wasn't too daunted as I knew he'd be able to live a normal life like me.”
The mother-of-one who grew up in Chicago with four younger siblings (none with a condition like hers) said that her parents were unaware of her condition until she was born.
This is probably where Linda’s strength came from, which she passed on to Timmy. She says that her parents “took it in their stride” and never treated her any differently. With their unyielding encouragement, she learned how to walk and dress herself.
“So by the age of 12 I was doing everything with my feet. I was teased at school, but my friends supported me,” she recalled.
When she finished school, Linda became a primary school teacher, and then she met her husband Richard at the age of 24 while working out at the gym.
“We hit it off straight away. He wasn't fazed by my disability - he liked my independence,” she said.
The couple tied the knot in 2004, and decided to try for a baby.
'After I became pregnant we were told that there was a 50 per cent chance our baby could inherit my condition,' she said. “I questioned whether we were doing the right thing, but we really wanted a family.”
When Timmy was born doctors told his parents he had holes in his heart. The newborn spent two months in hospital before he was allowed to go home.
“He had surgery and thankfully made a full recovery. I threw myself into being a mum. I'd carry him in a blanket hooked round my neck,” Linda said.
And as soon as Timmy was old enough, his mother taught him everything that she had learned. “As a baby he'd scoot around on his bum, but had learned to walk by the time he was two.”
Linda showed her son how to grip his toothbrush and cutlery with his feet. Timmy swims on his back and uses his legs to propel himself. However sometimes when he can’t do some stuff, like ride a bike, he gets upset, though it only lasts for awhile.
Despite all the challenges her son has overcame and prevailed, Linda said that she is not planning to have any more kids as she “couldn't bear to see them go through the same heart problems Timmy had.”
Linda now plans to become a motivational speaker, to help others facing similar disabilities.
She said: “I want to raise awareness about my disability and show you can live a full life. There's no reason why Timmy can't have a wife and family. As long as he's happy that's all that matters.”
This is a truly inspirational story worth sharing with your family and friends. Let others know of this inspirational story too by clicking the buttons below.