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Washington Voices

The Oaks’ Cvancara views disability as unique ability

You won’t find Hannah Cvancara sitting on the sidelines. You’ll find her where the action is. Whether it’s swimming, volleyball, track and field or ballroom dancing, the teen relishes her active lifestyle – a lifestyle made more remarkable because Cvancara has only one leg.

“I was born with a deformity and had to have my leg amputated when I was a year old,” she said. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”

When she came to the Oaks Classical Christian Academy in fourth grade, she didn’t shy away from talking about her disability. In fact, counselor Lynn Gibson said Cvancara doesn’t view her prosthetic leg as a disability but rather as a unique ability.

“My prosthetic leg doesn’t define me,” Cvancara said.

With the encouragement of the staff, she introduced herself at an assembly on the first day of school. “I just wanted to let people know who I was and what happened to me,” she said. “I wanted to get the questions out the way.”

Gibson said she’ll never forget watching Cvancara during a field trip to the Oregon coast. At the rocky beach, “She refused to let her disability get in her way,” Gibson said. “She let someone carry her over the biggest rocks and then she just scooted the rest of the way on her own.”

Indeed, the feisty teen has pursued every activity that interested her. “As a kid I could do almost everything the other kids could do with the exception of ballet,” she said, laughing. “I learned it’s really important to be able to point your toe!”

Her natural confidence took a hit in middle school. Like many kids Cvancara struggled with self-consciousness and insecurity during that time. “But everyone has flaws, either external or internal,” she said. “Now, I’m actually glad I was made the way I am. It’s given me a unique opportunity to help others. That’s why I ran for Miss Spokane.”

In February she won the competition and was crowned Miss Spokane 2013. In July she’ll compete for the title of Miss Washington. Her platform? “Honoring their sacrifice: Recognizing and supporting our disabled military veterans.”

Her father and many of her family members served in the Air Force. “What better combination of my disability and my military background?” she asked.

Cvancara has been accepted at Washington State University and plans to join the ROTC program. She sees a future for herself in the military. “I want to become a physician’s assistant in the Air Force.”

Her presence will be missed at The Oaks. Gibson said, “Hannah exudes genuine joy, having turned her limitations into opportunities.”

That joy and optimism is evident when she speaks. She said her message to others is simple. “If I can do it, you can. Push yourself! Get out of your comfort zone. Get off your butt and try something new!”

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