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Shantel Elizabeth

ButterFlyy:  You have an incredible story that is so inspiring.  In researching your story, you've talked about originally being from Thailand and being adopted from an orphanage.  What is the story behind becoming an orphan?

Kanya:  It wasn't really an orphanage because I wasn't living with many different kids.  I just had different families that looked after me and took care of me.  I was a week old when the monks found me on their doorstep, in a place Northeast of Bangkok.  They un-wrapped me from a blanket, and saw that I didn't have legs.  I was born with a birth-defect - I know that because I didn't have any stitches or anything.  I was living with them for a little bit until they had to call the police.  The hospital took over raising me for a while.  There was a lady that started taking care of me.  She wanted to take care of me but she couldn't because she was a full-time nurse and she didn't have time for that.  I was sent to a family that I call my grandparents and they took care of me until I was 6 1/2 years old.  My current adoptive parents got me when I was 6 1/2 years old.

ButterFlyy:  What was it like for you as a child in terms of how other children related to you?  Did you ever get bullied for being who you are and your outer appearance?

Kanya:  In Thailand, I couldn't go to school because it was by boat. I was home-schooled since I was disabled. I didn't have a lot of access to things.  I made my first best friend in Thailand.  Back at school, I was actually never bullied.  Kids asked questions or talked about me because they were curious.  They would ask me how I was going to do things.  I have a big heart, soul, and strong mind.  If kids had a problem with me, I would literally just talk to them and be straightforward.  That's how I was then and now.  I had a lot of friends.  But it took time for me to learn English.  I started learning English fluently at 9 years old.  That's when I started accomplishing many different sports.

ButterFlyy:  The motto of the ButterFlyy brand is "Give Yourself Permission to Flyy."  You definitely embody that and you haven't let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.  Did you always have the confidence that you have?  Where did that come from?

Kanya:  When I was little, I used to be shy around adults.  With kids, I was cool.  But when my mom or dad wanted a picture with me, I was like "No, dude."  But then I started getting used to it.  But at first I didn't know English, so I didn't have anybody to talk to.  The only friend I had was the reflection of myself in the mirror.  I was a very independent girl since I was younger.  I'm very stubborn.  People would try to help me do things and I didn't want them to.  I don't like help at all.  I feel awkward if I feel weak.  You just have to live your life and don't care if people are watching you.

ButterFlyy:  You show girls that being who they are, just as they are, is o.k. and beautiful.  How important is it for you to spread that message to young girls in particular?

Kanya:  It's very important to me because  I feel that in our society we are still struggling with discrimination, and not just with disabilities.  When I was in middle school and high school, people were so into cliques and being popular.  It's very important to let girls know that being beautiful is all about the inside and the conscious mind.  It's about how you think and accept people.  You can't judge a book by its cover.  Your personality and inner self affects your outside.  It's important to see people who are different.  When I look at these other models - girls that are different...I think it's good.

​ButterFlyy:  I know you are a multi-athlete and good at what you do.  I read somewhere that you are training for the 2018 Winter Paralympics.  Is that true?  If so, how is that going and what is that training like?

Kanya:  Yes.  I heard that we're going to South Korea in 2018.  We train in different mountains, in different states.  But we have to get to the World Cup first, to make it to the Paralympics.  Back in 2010, I was training for the Summer Olympics for track.  I got a lot of trophies and won first place in a lot of competitions.  But for the Winter Paralympics, we travel a lot, and train with mono-skiers and amputees.  It's a lot of fun.  It costs money.  Nothing is handed to us.  We have a GoFundMe and we have a lot of people that sponsor us.  I want to thank Challenge Athlete Foundation.  They help a lot with the disabled sports and providing some equipment.  I want to thank the fans too and all of the people that support me in my sports career.

ButterFlyy:  What advice would you give to girls that have big dreams but feel that they have major obstacles in their way, whether it be physical obstacles or other obstacles?

Kanya:  Don't hold back.  Be wise and aware of what you want, and chase after it.  People that are in your life that are negative and affecting your life negatively, you should not hang around those people.  Be careful of your actions.  You want to provide yourself with a good foundation, positive people, and positive vibes.  There are going to be struggles and challenges in your life and you want to make the best of it.  Always think about what you want to do in your future and how you're going to get after it.  Graduate from high school and go to college, while trying to achieve your dream.  We don't know how long certain things will last.  When we get older, our perspectives change;  our bodies change.  Just be aware of that when you're thinking about your future.  I'm so glad that I have a degree that I can fall back on, just in case something happens.

ButterFlyy:  What do you look forward to in 2016?

Kanya:  I'm excited for a couple of projects that I can't really say right now, but definitely t.v.  Also, my new book is coming out.  I'm working with an author right now.  So I'm excited!

A ButterFlyy Interview with Kanya Sesser

By:  Shantel Elizabeth​​


Actress - Athlete - Model