Teacher Vows To Carry Disabled Girl On Back Garnering Media Attention When Photos Surface

Having a disability can set you back if you let it define you as a person and allow it to prevent you from chasing after your dreams. For 4th grader Maggie Vazquez, her disability is just another barrier or hurdle that she must overcome daily, but it doesn’t define who she is as a person. Maggie has cerebral palsy, which affects her muscles, making it hard for her to walk. It also affects her coordination and motor ability. Despite this challenge, Maggie is fiercely strong and very independent so when her 4th grade class was planning to go on a camping trip there were no doubts in her mind that she wouldn’t be attending with her class.

Maggie’s teacher Helma Wardenaar agreed. One way or another she and other staff were going to brainstorm a way to get Maggie to join them for every activity of the trip, the biggest challenge being a hike. After some research from the park rangers in the area Ms. Helma learned that a wheelchair wasn’t going to cut it so they thought about renting a pony or maybe even making a fancy chair out of a wheelbarrow for Maggie. None of the ideas came together until Ms. Helma went to an outdoor shop and found a safe backpack with a harness so that Maggie could sit safely inside it. It was then that Ms. Helma decided she and Maggie would work as a team to get through the tough terrain together.

Ms. Helma loves to stay active by working out and being that Maggie walks in a walker daily she has remarkable upper body strength. Paired together, Ms. Helma carried young Maggie on her back for the entire hike. It truly was a heartwarming moment setting her teacher apart from others. Ms. Helma, however, says its Maggie that’s the real hero. Throughout the hike Maggie would give her teacher neck massages when she noticed she was tired, or sing her songs and shout words of encouragement during the hike. Ms. Wardenaar recalls Maggie saying, “Come on Ms. Helma! You can do it!” at times when she felt the exhaustion kicking in. Its teachers like Ms. Helma that make the world a better place and attitudes like Maggie’s that remind us to never up give despite challenges we face. Watch more on this heartwarming story in the video below.