Experiencing many trials and tribulations is something that we all must face in our lifetime. Setbacks can slow us down and oftentimes even leave us feeling downtrodden. What we often forget is that things are what we make of them and that the cards we are dealt can be used to our advantage. 9-year-old Haven Shepherd is living proof of this. She has endured many things, but will do whatever it takes to write her own story.
Haven was born out of wedlock as a result of her birth parents having an affair. They feared that they could never be together because Vietnamese society does not condone divorce. Because they were so heartbroken, they decided that they must end their daughter’s life as well as their own. To do this, they created a homemade bomb that they strapped around themselves, placing Haven in the middle. When the bomb went off, her parents were killed instantly – but Haven survived. She lost her parents and her lower legs in the blink of an eye.
But Haven’s story does not end here. A Touch A Life colleague in Vietnam called TAL Co-Founders, Pam and Randy Cope, asking for help in getting Haven a medical visa so she could have surgery in the U.S. Not only were the Copes able to facilitate a medical visa, but they also found adoptive parents for Haven – their lifelong friends, Rob and Shelly Shepherd. At 19 months old, Haven was adopted and relocated to Missouri. Haven’s childhood has been filled with the everlasting love that her parents and six siblings have shown her.
Haven loves to run and play and, as a result, she is now a featured athlete for the Challenged Athlete’s Foundation (CAF). In 2011, CAF provided Haven with her first pair of running legs so she could participate in sporting events and track meets.
This story is another example of the resilience of brave and beautiful children all over the world. Much like many of the children helped by the Touch A Life Foundation, Haven made the choice early on to make the most of what she was given. And with the help of her parents, siblings and friends, she has done just that. Her journey may be far from over, but Haven Shepherd is well on her way to crossing the finish line.