Original story from The Oakland Press
Katie Champagne's mother, Michelle, feared she'd never feel the loving touch of her daughter, who was born without hands and left arm below the elbow. "I was holding her the first night in the hospital bed and rubbing her cheek and feeling sad she might not be able to grab or touch me," Michelle said as her husband, Lt. Col. Doug Champagne, sat in a chair in the hospital room. "She then pinned my hand between her arms and touched my cheek," Michelle said. "At that moment, I knew there was nothing this child wasn't going to be able to do with her life." And from that moment on Sept. 9, 1994, when Katie was born, she has proven her mother's words to be prophetic.
Her accomplishments are outstanding. And most important, Katie or anyone that knows her does not think of her as being disabled or less than anyone else. "I don't think I'm disabled," Katie says. "I just figure out a way to do everything." Katie, who starts the 11th grade this month and is home-schooled, is the co-captain of the Oxford High School equestrian team. She has learned to compensate for her lack of hands by using her intelligence, strong legs and core body strength to ride. Her father, who is preparing to be deployed to the Mideast for the sixth time in Operation Enduring Freedom, said Katie learned right away there was no such thing as "I can't" in her life.