College Cheerleader’s Remarkable Story
College Cheerleader’s Remarkable Story, Patience Beard stood out during tryouts for the Arkansas cheer squad for an unexpected reason. The girl with the ‘zebra leg’ wows Hog country, Jean Nail has been judging cheerleaders longer than most current cheerleaders have been alive. She started as spirit coordinator for the University of Arkansas 30 years ago, and let’s just say her standards are as tough as her name.
So her heart didn’t immediately melt earlier this year when she saw the DVD application of a blonde Texarkana girl named Patience Beard. Nail knew thousands of people would go “wow” when they took one look at the girl, and not in the way most red-blooded males say “wow” when they look at a cheerleader.
Patience was different than any other applicant Nail had ever seen: She had a prosthetic left leg. Nail was sympathetic, but this incoming freshman would have to inspire more than concern to become one of 12 freshmen to cheer for the Razorbacks. The coach would offer “no special consideration” here. Beard would have to do all the stunts, and do them perfectly. There would be no charity for Patience.
When she was six months old, Patience Beard was diagnosed with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a disease that affects bone growth. Put simply, her left leg would always be shorter than her right. And over the course of years, that would create all kinds of structural problems. So when she was nine months old, Beard’s parents allowed doctors to amputate their daughter’s left foot and ankle. She would be able to walk, but not without a prosthetic.
Beard’s mom and dad worried about their girl falling down. Patience, however, didn’t seem to have those concerns. When she was 3, her dad made her a bike with training wheels and a special sleeve that could accommodate her prosthetic leg. Patience demanded the training wheels be removed. Mom said no, but Dad relented. And off Patience went, riding along without training wheels.