BY MIKE MAGEE
“People may not treat you right or they may stare at you. But the way you treat people will go much further than anything else. “
In the summer of 2017, Colleen and Miles Tidd were told that their third child would be born without a left forearm. Colleen later reported that she cried at first, but not for long. They had two other children, girls aged 2 and 12, to be considered. In preparation for the birth of their son Joseph, they reached out to an advocacy group to “Lucky fin”, for information and support.
The name is derived from the Disney classic “Finding Nemo” from 2003 and its animated star clownfish Nemo. He was born with a short fin, the result of a barracuda attack that killed his mother and sister and cracked his egg while he was still developing. The little fish was left with an overprotective father who feared to try to limit his future. Nemo resisted, and found his strength and purpose in part in redefining what other sea creatures saw in him. They saw an unfortunate fish with an unusually shortened limb. He saw the adventure ahead of him, propelled by his “lucky fin”.
Carson Pickett, the soccer star, has their own story. She was born near Jacksonville, Florida in 1994 with a missing left forearm almost identical to Joseph (nicknamed Joe-Joe). Her parents, Treasure and Mike, were former college sports stars who wanted to broaden rather than narrow their daughter’s horizons. Carson’s mantra became “Control What You Can Control”, her own variation on Nemo’s famous “Just Swim On”. Her father introduced her to soccer at the age of five and she has never looked back. She was a standout at Florida State University and was drafted by the National Women’s Soccer League team Seattle Reign. In 2018 she was part of a three-person trade for the NWSL Orlando Pride.
Colleen and Mike Tidd noticed immediately. Joe-Joe and Carson were both born in Florida, loved soccer, were athletic, and some had left arms. They placed their limb defects among 2,250 US babies born with the disease each year. When her photo was taken in April 2019, Joe-Joe was 21 months old and had become used to wearing a purple Pride jersey with Carsons # 16 on the back.
That famous photo was taken to a home game by Joe-Joe’s mother when Carson was jogging with the family after hearing their cheers. As reported“She tapped his arm repeatedly as he shrieked with delight.” After the game, the two spent time in the locker room playing their version of peekaboo – pulling up their shirt sleeves to reveal their left arms. Colleen said, “It took him a minute to realize, ‘Wow, we have the same arms,’ and then he just giggled. You could see how it hit him, and after that they were best friends … She’s like me. “
The image speaks a lot, especially to healthcare professionals who understand the power of touch and rely on it. They also know that fear and worry have corrosive effects on people and their societies, and that isolation fuels the fire even more. But challenges also bring enlightenment. You never know what’s just around the corner.
Just ask Carson Pickett. She is now 27 and her Orlando team was marginalized when several members tested positive for Covid and eliminated her from the playoffs. At about the same time, there was a knock on her door, and one package contained a simple entry-level shoe with a wraparound strap closure instead of laces. That Phantom GT Academy FlyEase was her shoe – in the truest sense of the word.
She had teamed up with Nike, and this shoe had a special meaning. She recalled, “I saw the younger me. I went to see it and it almost moved me to tears because it’s just great to see something that would have really helped me when I was younger. “
You never know. “Ever since I got to the pros and saw how much amazing news I get about how I inspire people, some who aren’t even soccer players,” she said. “[Seeing that] just showed me that I can do so much more than just being a good footballer and that I can stand up for something much bigger than football. “
When they got home that day in 2019, Colleen Tidd posted the photo “Tidbit_outta_hand”, an Instagram site she set up when Joe-Joe was born. Why? She said, “It just shows that he’s unique, but he’s no different from anybody else. He will be able to achieve anything. “
Since then, this photo has touched many others, especially those isolated from the pandemic or trapped in the midst of America’s political upheaval. For everyone, Nemo’s “Just keep swim” or Carson’s “Control what you can control” or Joe-Joe’s ecstatic reaction to “Reach out and touch” speak of perseverance, resilience, perseverance, shared humanity – and a better tomorrow.
Mike Magee MD is a medical historian and health economist and author of Code Blue: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex.
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