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Paralympian presents to West Iron County’s Stambaugh Elementary school

Kelly Allen represented the USA in the 2016 Rio Paralympic games as a kayaker
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 2:30 PM EDT
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IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - An Iron County elementary school hosted a Paralympic athlete Friday, and it had special meaning to one second grader.

Kingsford native Kelly Allen was born with a rare condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD). She had no femur, tibia, or other bones in her left leg. Allen got her first prosthetic when she was three months old.

“I’ve learned to adapt and just conquer the world in my own way and so I’m excited to be able to meet new amputees,” said Kelly Allen, 2016 Paralympic Kayaker.

The newest is Elie Brzoznowski, a second grader at Stambaugh Elementary in Iron River. Like Allen, Ellie is missing her leg. Her parents say she has been in a prosthetic for over a month. For Ellie, the presentation was a way to teach her friends about her identity.

“That I don’t want them to bully me or anything. I’m the same as them, and I don’t want to get treated different,” said Ellie Brzoznowski.

Ellie is just like any other second grader. She loves to play soccer, her favorite subject is reading, and her favorite book is the hungry caterpillar. Friday’s presentations to the entire school taught kids that they all bring something to the table.

“Accepting your differences isn’t just something that kids with physical differences should be doing,” Allen said. “I think everyone has something that makes them unique and special. We can all feel left out and feel different sometimes.”

Allen says it’s important for kids to be curious and ask the right questions about people with disabilities. She says people will stare and bully others they don’t understand.

“If I can just be a resource and help them learn a little bit more about something, I think that’s a good day for me,” Allen said.

As a retired Paralympian, Allen hopes to continue to speak to audiences and meet more people like Ellie.

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