How do you define a miracle? Is it only Jesus walking on water, raising someone from the dead, or healing people? And then there’s the saints – they did some pretty awesome things that are definitely miracles. Those miracles were such a long time ago though. We don't see too many today, huh? Or do we . . . ?
You see it all depends on your definition of a miracle. There's this amazing athlete, Emmy Kaiser; she's 21 years old and the #1 U.S. woman's wheelchair tennis athlete. She has Spina Bifida but that didn't stop her from pursuing her dream of being a professional athlete. This girl has competed in tennis on every continent except Antarctica. (I guess they don't play much tennis there.)
I interviewed Emmy, who's also a Catholic from Kentucky and a recent graduate of St. Thomas More College. I couldn't help but realize that God is working small miracles all around us. It's the birth of a baby, that smile when you're having a bad day, an 'A' on the math test you thought you bombed, or God giving a girl the grace to decide her wheelchair isn't going to define her.
Were you ever mad at God that you have Spina Bifida?
No, because I've never known anything different. There were some things that I wish I could do or experience but I never wished to be permanently able-bodied. I just look at where I am at with my career in tennis, school, and relationships and right now I'm happy with where I'm at.
What was different for you when you were growing up?
Not too much, I went to Catholic schools for preschool through college. I played just as many (if not more) sports than the typical kid in grade school and excelled at many of them. I was on the academic team in grade school and had the typical fights with my sister.
Did you feel like people defined you by your disability? What really defines you?
At first glance, people used to . . . but I'm just your typical 20-something girl. Once people talk to me or see what I'm doing they realize that the chair is just a tiny aspect of who I am. For me my drive to set and accomplish my goals, my life experiences, my sense of humor, and my personality (just like everyone else) is what defines me.
What made you want to start playing tennis?
I was 5 years old and there was a demo at Sawyer Point [a tennis facility in Ohio] and my parents made me go. Once I was there one of the staff members handed me a racket . . . and I have been playing ever since.
What's your favorite part about being an athlete?
I love the competition and the camaraderie between people. Also, being on the U.S. team is fun because it's like another family to me and we get to go all over the world to compete together.
What role does your faith play in your life, especially as you travel the world to compete?
For me I don't really notice it as a separate aspect of my life. I'm grateful for what I have been given and for the people I've gotten to meet. So for me my faith a reminder that there is somebody out there who is the reason I got to experience everything I have and I need to be grateful for that because not everyone can feel secure in seeing that the experiences we have are for a purpose in our lives.
What do you want to say to someone who thinks God can't or doesn't want to work a miracle in their life?
Then they should look at their definition of miracle again. They either need to appreciate the smaller things in life and see that miracles are not always these huge things that could only happen once in the history of the world or something. It is possible and it probably has happened to them they just didn't look at it in the way they needed to to see it that way.