“Mum! She has a leg like me!”
Seven-year-old Mia and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Cole lead very different lives.
While Mia attends primary school, Ellie trains for the Paralympics and while Mia is winning class awards, Ellie is winning gold medals.
However, Mia and Ellie also have a lot in common. Both live with limb difference and use prosthetics to help them day-to-day, and both are devoted advocates for representation and inclusivity.
Born with a very rare condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), Mia is literally one in a million. Her condition means that most of her femur bone and hip bone didn’t develop in utero and left her needing treatment, surgery and ongoing therapy to enable her to walk.
But despite needing to learn to walk twice, and the numerous other hurdles that are thrown Mia’s way, she is adamant that she is more than her condition and is constantly proving that she can do the same things as everyone else.
Mia’s aspirations were recently cemented when she visited her local Woolworths, where ‘Aussie Hero’ Ellie Cole’s posters were featured in celebration of the upcoming Olympic/Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Mia spotted Ellie’s poster at the checkout while shopping with her mum, and her response was pretty spectacular.
“Mia was so excited to see Ellie in the store. She screamed across the shop, “Mum, she’s got a leg like me!” Mia’s mum, Leila, said.
“Representation matters so much for kids like Mia. It made her day and she was smiling from ear to ear!” she said.
Leila posted the photo of Mia on her Instagram and quickly caught the eye of Ellie Cole. Sharing the photo of Mia on her own Instagram, Ellie's message was simple - "This is why we do what we do."
Ellie Cole is a world-record holder, gold medal-winning Paralympic Swimmer and is an inspiration for many.
Diagnosed with sarcoma as an infant, Ellie had her right leg amputated at two years old. Only eight weeks after the amputation, she began swimming as a form of rehabilitation, and she hasn’t stopped since.
The upcoming Tokyo Paralympic Games will be her fourth time competing, and while she's proud of her impressive sporting achievements, the opportunity to inspire young people like Mia is one of the best parts of her job.
"I never had a role model growing up that looked the way I did. It warms my heart to know that children with a disability can grow up without the fear of being different or any less able than their friends at school. I can only imagine the unstoppable life that Mia and all the other children of her generation will live. Their confidence and self-belief is like nothing I have ever seen before," Ellie said.
Mia’s photo also caught the attention of several other Olympians including Ian Thorpe, Jessica Fox and Giann Rooney and sports reporter, Mark Beretta.
After this heart-warming experience and Mia getting the opportunity to meet her idol via the TODAY Show, Leila is more hopeful than ever that Mia will go on to achieve everything she sets her mind to and more.
"For me as Mia's mum, seeing people like Ellie being front and centre of big campaigns and on the front of magazines just makes me so happy that Mia is hopefully going to grow up in a more inclusive and accepting world.
“Day to day, Mia doesn't see anyone that looks like her, so to see how happy it makes her when she sees things like the current Paralympians in Woolworths makes my heart swell!" she said.
Mia is one of the thousands of patients across our Network who inspire those around them every, single day and with role models like Ellie, there is no doubt that they will be the sports stars inspiring the next generation in the very near future.