When Savannah Zirbel was only two and a half years old, she lost her left leg and arm in a terribly unfortunate accident. In the blink of an eye, Savannah and her family’s world was turned upside down as they were left to learn how to navigate life with a disability as their new normal.
What they didn’t know was how powerfully inspiring and transformative this journey would turn out to be: Savannah refused to let her disability define her, pushing past every limit she encountered to prove to herself and others that she could accomplish whatever she set her mind to.
Savannah is a teenager now and recently finished first in SIX different state swimming events which is just incredible. She’ll be competing in the nationals in just a few weeks with her eyes set on swimming her way to another title. As you can imagine, Jennifer is a very proud mama.
I invited Savannah and her mom to join me on today’s episode to share their inspiring advice on keeping a positive outlook throughout adversity, the best ways to approach people with disabilities, and how Savannah has already become a mentor to others.
Jennifer and Savannah remind us of the importance of community and friendship, how most of our limits are in our minds, and how a slight shift in perspective can go a long way in finding joy in your journey.
Key Takeaways with Jennifer and Savannah Zirbel
- Not letting a disability define you, or what you can accomplish.
- Finding motivation and strength from both people who believe in you, and people who don’t.
- Letting go of control and taking leaps of faith as a parent of a child with a disability.
- The best way to approach and interact with people with a disability.
- How they’re others about life with a physical disability, and encouraging them to ask questions.
- The importance of keeping your faith through hardships.
- How to shift your perspective to a more positive one throughout adversity.
- The growth you experience when navigating a difficult medical journey.
- The power of community and great friendships.
Jennifer and Savannah Zirbel Tweetables
- “You can do as much as you put your mind to. Nothing can hold you back. You have no limits, except for where your mind stops you.” – Savannah Zirbel
- “As a parent, you have to have a leap of faith and hope people respond to your kids well. There are naysayers out there, and Savannah proved them wrong.” – Jennifer Zirbel
- “When you see someone with a disability, it’s better to ask and be curious than to gawk. Let your kids be curious, let them see people are different.” – Jennifer Zirbel
- “Most of the time I’m not 100% able to do what everybody else does, but in the water, I get to be just like everybody else. I enjoy blowing people away with what I do.” – Savannah Zirbel
- “You can’t change what happened, but you can grow from it. It doesn’t matter where you start, it doesn’t matter what happens along the road… it only matters that you push to make whatever you want to happen, happen. ” – Savannah Zirbel
- Daily Journal Article — GIRLS SWIMMING: Bradley-Bourbonnais Zirbel headed to IHSA Athletes with Disabilities State Finals
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