“Accept Yourself As God Created You”: The Amazing Story of Disabled Swimmer Jessica Long

A Toyota advertisement evoking the story of Jessica Long, a disabled swimmer who was adopted, transmitted during the Super Bowl, did not fail to move viewers. 

Ln February 7, the Super Bowl was held, an American football game constituting the season finale. This is a legendary event in the United States, punctuated by concerts during which artists compete for originality.

This year, an advertisement also caught the attention of viewers, this is an advertisement for the Toyota car brand that features the moving story of Jessica Long, disabled swimmer.

Jessica Long, a young woman aged 28, was born in Russia, she suffers from a congenital defect which required an amputation of both her legs below the knee. Placed in an orphanage in Siberia, she was adopted by Steve and Beth Long, an American couple.

In the advertising of the Toyota brand, we can see the young woman swimming through the different stages of her life, from her early childhood in an orphanage bed, to swimming competitions, through learning to walk with prostheses and crutches.

At a maintenance for the movement of which she is part, "Fight for the Fatherless", led by Christian athletes, which aims to encourage orphans and people affected by a disability, the young woman confided in her faith and her history.

It was at the age of 10 that she joined a swimming team. A place where she feels accepted as she is, where other girls treat her normally and not as a different, disabled person.

“They didn't notice or seem to care that I didn't have legs. "

Asked about her faith in God, Jessica reports that she was brought up in a Christian home where faith had a big place, but that her true faith came later. Long angry with God because of her disability, the young woman declares that she has finally chosen to give her heart to Jesus. A choice that she has never regretted, since she confides having overcome each "difficult moment" of her life thanks to "the determination" that God has given her.

“I have always been angry with God. I couldn't understand how a God could make me without my legs. When I was 8, I kind of accepted it, but it was more out of fear and a desire to go to heaven. There was no relationship and I still didn't feel good enough. Years later when I trained in the spring in Colorado, I felt that God was really working in my heart. I was brought up in the right way, but I still had to come to Christ on my own. Finally, I decided that I wanted to give Jesus all my heart. It was the best decision I have ever made. It doesn't mean that I don't have difficult days! I only now know who ultimately has my heart and I am learning to trust God. Growing up, I underwent several surgeries to help with bone growth. What made it so difficult was the healing process and not understanding why I had to go through all this pain. I also had to learn to walk each time, but looking back, stopping was never an option. I have overcome every difficult moment in my life because of the determination God has given me. "

“I now look at my legs and think of all the people I have been able to touch because God made me this way” says the athlete who wants to encourage others to accept themselves “as God made them”. "Learn to love yourself completely, even your faults!" She added.

In an Instagram post, Jessica Long thanked Toyota for sharing her story and her family for their love and loyalty.

 

See this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jessica Long (@jessicatatianalong)

“Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived! No words can ever say how much this means to me. The fact that my story is shared in this way gives me absolute chills. Thanks to Toyota for bringing my story to life. Thank you to my parents for adopting me and giving me the best possible life. Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me all these years. Thanks to my coaches for pushing me to be the best. Thank you to my husband for loving me unconditionally. I will be watching the Super Bowl this year with my teammates in Colorado Springs at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. Thanks to the technology, I'll be on FaceTime with my husband, parents, and siblings watching from Baltimore. I look forward ! "

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image credit: Creative Commons License / Wikimedia 

Article originally published in February 2021.

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