Jessica Cox flies airplanes, drives cars and otherwise lives a normal life. But such commonplace tasks are incredible feats for Cox; the 29-year-old world-traveler was born without arms.
Cox, who works as a motivational speaker, recently shared her story and inspirational message at the Fowler Grade School Auditorium.
Throughout her life, doctors have never been able to pinpoint the reason Cox was born without arms. But Cox said she knows the answer.
She has achieved with her feet what most people with hands only dream of doing. As a child, she studied dance in her hometown. At the age of 14, she earned her first black belt from the International Taekwondo Federation. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot's certificate.
Convinced that the way we think has a greater impact on our lives than our physical constraints, Cox now travels the world, 17 countries so far, sharing her story and encouraging people to be creative and innovative with the mantra "think outside the shoes."
While at Fowler Grade School, Cox talked about the shock her family and especially her mom experienced when she was born without arms. On stage, she demonstrated examples of everyday things she does with her feet from brushing her hair to putting on lipstick as well as tying her shoes and buckling a seatbelt on an airplane that she pilots.
Overcoming the challenges she faced made her stronger in faith, conviction and desire, Cox said. She incorporated humor into her presentation through audience participation; kids were called up on stage to help show the difficulty she faces every day and to attempt solving the issues she encounters. Student Zion Shetley was asked to open a can of pop with his toes and feet. After several moments of intense trials and humorous attempts, she helped him open the can. She also opened another can for herself and even took a drink all without assistance.
Cox discussed the importance of overcoming fear by tackling it head on, never letting fear stand in the front of your opportunities. She talked to the students about making correct choices in their young lives by avoiding drugs. Most importantly, don't give in to peer pressure.
"Choices you make now can and will affect your path in life forever," she said.
Cox's husband Patrick also took part in the presentation. Patrick travels to schools and teaches kids how to address bullies. He brought Brooke Keith on stage to show the proper way of handling and responding to bullies without violence.
Kim Goodnight, former Ford County commissioner and current area manager of community affairs for ITC Great Plains, also attended Cox's presentation. He gave her a belt buckle with an engraving of the plane she pilots, a 1946 415C Ercoupe. Goodnight's family donated a similar plane, their Ercoupe N94886, to the MidAmerica Air Museum in Liberal a few years ago.
Page 2 of 2 - Cox was invited to present at the school by The Fowler Booster Club, who spent more than a year and a half planning and organizing her visit.
"We were so fortunate and thankful to be able to have her speak to our southwest Kansas communities," said Kevin Milford, booster club president.
Sponsors for Cox's presentation hailed from Ashland, Minneola, Fowler, Meade and Plains.