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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

The Story Of A Cinderella Costume With A Twist Goes Vira

Speaker 1: 00:00 And Oceanside woman with a passion for costume making has become an inspiration to kids across the country. KPBS reporter Prius Sri, their reports Speaker 2: 00:11 now Senator godmother, are you ready to go? Once upon a time and ocean side lived a woman, Mandy rape, her husband Ryan and their eight year old daughter, Kaylee, the lightest tap, the gentlest touch, and she was dressed in a gown. Their tail is one of happiness and love and family, but it wasn't always an easy one. [inaudible] crystal that Mandy was born without an arm. They think that an amniotic band wrapped around it and just kept it from developing properly. So I've had my whole life to figure out how to adapt and do the things that I want to do after spending her childhood bouncing from place to place with her father, who was a pastor. Mandy eventually settled down in Florida. It was there that Mandy met Ryan. Speaker 3: 00:55 I'm so fortunate that I found my own Prince charming. Um, he is so sweet and accepting and supportive in real life too. Speaker 2: 01:03 The two fell in love. Ryan a Marine was living in San Diego. He flew his new love to California where the couple went to their own ball, the Marine Corps ball. Eventually they got married and had a baby girl Speaker 4: 01:17 are basically our second, um, Valentine's day. We, uh, I went out and bought her a sewing machine cause in the Marine Corps my job is a parachute rigger or flood Colby technician. And we basically sold and repair, uh, fabric things that, uh, the air crew use. I bought her solutioning cause she is a theater arts major and she had her own little book of costumes. She wanted design for theater. Speaker 5: 01:40 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 01:40 it was that hobby that ended up transforming Mandy into a fairy godmother herself. Speaker 5: 01:48 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 01:48 she created some costumes for her daughter and friends, but then she got inspired. Speaker 3: 01:54 My daughter had been studying Cinderella stories at school and I realized that there were all these beautiful tales from around the world, but there were still no princesses who looked like me. And so I just had the thought, if this character doesn't exist, I'm going to create [inaudible] Speaker 5: 02:11 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 02:11 she spent 60 hours creating a Cinderella ballgown and another 40 creating one for her Prince charming. She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to do with it all, but she knew she wanted to highlight and celebrate her difference. Speaker 3: 02:28 When I was growing up, I rarely saw anybody who looked like me on television. I still didn't see amputee women being portrayed as beautiful or strong. And so it took me a really long time to recognize that the things that make us different and unique can actually be really positive traits. And that Speaker 2: 02:47 was the twist. Mandy decided instead of a glass slipper, her Cinderella would have a glass arm. After telling friends about her plan, she was linked up to a sculptor in who took one of her prosthetic arms and created a glass looking one out of clear resin. She posted the pictures on her Facebook and overnight the post went viral with thousands of likes. Actually, Speaker 3: 03:12 I've been amazed that everybody has been so positive and encouraging. You know, it's kind of scary to put yourself out there on the internet like this, but it's been incredible how everyone has, uh, had just had positive messages to convey. Speaker 2: 03:26 She now has received messages and pictures from families across the United States who say she's an inspiration. Her Prince charming says all of this couldn't be happening to a better person. Speaker 4: 03:38 I'm very proud of her. Definitely. She's um, and she definitely deserves it. She's just a very sweet person, a very, a compassionate person for people. Speaker 2: 03:46 Mandy has created a new Facebook page where she's invited her followers to share their own stories about celebrating their differences. Speaker 3: 03:54 I began to realize, you know, this is something really special and I at least wanted kids who were like me, who had some kind of physical difference or limb difference to be able to see it, to maybe inspire them that they can be the hero of their own story too. Speaker 2: 04:08 She says, this is just the beginning. This has been a complete dream come true for me. She says, her Cinderella story continues to evolve and she wants to help put the happy in the ever afters of many more children who might feel a little different. Joining me is KPBS reporter, Prius, Raytheon, and prio welcome. Thanks. This is one of those great stories that actually give people good news for a change. How did you find out about it? Yeah, so I'm actually in a bunch of Facebook groups for reporters and so someone had posted these pictures and they had somehow seeing them on somebody else's Facebook page and they said, Hey, does anyone happen to live near Oceanside? And when I saw how beautiful the pictures were, I thought I had to reach out to this woman and see if I could pursue the story. Wow. Speaker 2: 04:56 Now when Mandy isn't wearing her glass arm, what kind of a prosthetic does she use? She actually doesn't use a prosthetic. She's just sort of gotten used to living her life with one arm and she's so used to it because she was born with only one arm. She has tried on different prosthetics but none of the sort of more high tech modern ones that actually you know, allow you to move your fingers and all that. She said she's tried them on but so far she hasn't been, you know, found any sort of insurance to cover it or anything like that. I mean she is interested in looking into it, but she's lived for so long with just doing everything with one arm that it's not completely necessary to her. So having this glass arm was a real change for her to actually have an object there. Speaker 2: 05:41 Who is the sculptor in Arizona who made Mandy's glass arm? Yeah. So she had been working on this project for a month and all of her friends know her as someone who's always making costumes. So they're sort of always asking her, Hey Mandy, what are you working on? And she said, this time it's Cinderella and I want do a twist on the glass slipper and do a glass arm. But I have no idea. That's so out of my comfort zone. I really only know how to sew things. So one of her friends linked her up with a sculptor in Tucson who she still hasn't really met yet and it's kind of funny. His name is Gilbert Lozano. Um, and she almost views him as like the fairy godfather in this story because he, you know, heard about the story and was super inspired. And so she did mail him one of her prosthetic arms and um, he was able to cast it in resin, a clear looking resin. So it looks like glass, but it's not really glass. It's about two pounds, but she treats it like it's this really precious object and she wraps it up in cloth and carries it around everywhere. But it does fit onto her, um, just like a real arm would, but it doesn't actually move or anything like that. Speaker 1: 06:43 Wow. No cause in the picture in the website, Mandy and her husband look like they just walked out of a Disney parade. I mean the costumes are beautiful, but it sounds like Mandy was a bit leery about posting that picture. What kind of reaction did she think she was going to get? Speaker 2: 07:00 Yeah, so she said that somebody, um, had a daughter who was five years old who was also born with only one arm and that little girl just wanted to see the pictures. And so originally she literally just posted them on her own personal Facebook page for that little girl. And then somehow, you know how this happens in this day and age. Um, it sort of took off. And what was really, really sweet was I asked Mandy to think back to when she was that age and you know, if she had any role models to look up to. And she said the one person she always thinks about is Jim Abbott and I didn't know who he was, I don't know if you're familiar with him, but he was actually a major league baseball player from 1989 to 1999 who was born without an arm and he had a very successful baseball career. Speaker 2: 07:40 He played for the angels here in California, the Yankees, the Chicago white Sox and the Milwaukee brewers. And she said watching him on TV as a kid really inspired her. But there aren't that many representations of people who have limb differences. Even though the CDC estimates that about 1500 babies in the U S are born every single year with upper limb differences and 750 babies are born every year with lower limb differences. So she thinks that this is just one of those great things about technology and social media that now you know, little kids across the United States who are born like this can find ways to connect with adults who have lived with limb differences too. Speaker 1: 08:20 And how has the response been since the picture was posted? So Speaker 2: 08:24 it's been incredible. So much so that her own personal Facebook page almost crashed. So she started this other Facebook page called be the spark caused play and she's, you know, encouraging other people with limb differences or whatever their, you know, disability might be to celebrate those differences. And she said one lady who really spoke to her, she dresses up as a different Disney character for all of her cancer treatments. And so she was sending her pictures of all the different costumes that she wears to her cancer treatments. And she initially, that woman did it for herself just to make herself feel happy because she was obviously going through a tough time in her life, but you know, it started sort of sending these ripple positive effects to everybody else in the hospital. And so it's just really amazing because all of these people who are struggling with different things are now have a platform to all connect to each other. Speaker 2: 09:12 Well, I can see how Mandy going out there and having this beautiful picture with the glass arm is causing a lot of difference in young people's lives who are dealing with limb differences. How has this changed? Mandy, I hadn't heard of this term but she talked about lucky fins and apparently in finding Nemo another, you know, sort of cartoon movie, um, Nimo had a little fin that wasn't very useful. It was sort of like an extra Finn, but um, it was celebrated and you know, they decided in the movie to call it a lucky fin. So she said everybody has their little lucky fin. This is now everybody's sort of celebrating their own versions of their lucky fin. And I think, you know, she's obviously grown into herself. She's an adult, and she, I asked her what's the message that she would want to send to little kids across the United States who are looking up to her now as a role model? Speaker 2: 10:02 And she said, there's going to be negativity everywhere, but it's important to surround yourself with people who love you. And that's going to be the way that you're going to shine and grow into yourself and, and love yourself. And I guess we know what they'll be wearing this Halloween. Yes. She's actually working on another Cinderella costume and it's going to be a peasant costume that's going to turn into a ballgown. So everyone should stay tuned and check out her Facebook page to see more pictures of that. It's terrific. I've been speaking with the KPBS reporter Prius. Truther thank you so much. Thanks.

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The costume, created by an Oceanside woman who was born without an arm, has inspired children and people with limb differences.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments