Her fight, our fight: The day we met Ronda Rousey

By Laura Smith|June 1, 2015|#knockoutapraxia, Apraxia, apraxia blog, Childhood Apraxia of Speech|

It started with an intriguing title: Ronda Rousey: The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, and then a picture of a James Bond beauty type.

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Now, I normally wouldn’t click on stuff like this, but today I had a day off, the kids weren’t fighting, and I thought, okay…sure.  Let’s see.  A beautiful James Bond girl is the most dangerous woman in the world?  Sure.  Let’s read about this.

And then I read this

“In her first six years, nobody knew whether she’d ever speak an intelligent sentence, such were the after effects of being born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. It could be that her gibberish and mumblings were signs of brain damage. No one knew, and her parents — Ron, an aerospace-industry executive, and De Mars, an educational psychologist and statistician — moved when she was three from Riverside, California, to Jamestown, North Dakota, in part to be near the Minot State University speech therapists, who set about bringing her vocal cords to their senses. It wasn’t easy, and it took time. And it was especially frustrating for Ronda given how advanced her sisters were. “I’m dumb, Mom,” she once said. “Maria and Jennifer have the words. I don’t have the words.” “No, you’re not, you’re very smart,” her mother told her. ”

And then I was hooked.  I started googling her name.  I read every interview.  In almost every interview she made mention of her “speech impediment.”  Each time she talked about it, the more my mind thought, “this is apraxia.”

I threw up the question to the apraxia kids facebook group.  Yes, people had heard of her, but no, they never heard she had a speech impediment and they sure didn’t think she had apraxia.  Hmm.

Did I mention I had the day off and my kids were being good?

So, I started to research some more.  In one interview she said her dad called her “sleeper.”  She was just waiting to bloom.  He told her things like she was going to be an Olympic gold champion, or the president of the United States. He died tragically when she was young and he never lived to see her accomplishments.  My heart ached for them.

In another interview they said one time she said a word that was unintelligible, but it was what she wanted for her birthday.  Her dad took her to the toy store and made the store clerk take them to every item until they discovered her jumbled words were trying to say Incredible Hulk.  Man, how many of us have been there?  Damn birthdays.  When your kid can finally tell you what they want, you would sell your house to get it and you say a prayer of thanks they could at least try and say something and tell us what they want.  She HAS to have apraxia.  I have to at least ask.

One problem.  Ronda Rousey is incredibly famous.  What could I even write that her PR people would read and then pass on to her?  Could I try her fb page?  Twitter?  I settled on the “contact me” form on her website.  I started writing to her PR people, but it emphatically turned into me writing to her.  I didn’t hold out much hope, but hey, might as well put it out there.  Apraxia needs a face….and what better face then this badass female!  She’s smart, talented, driven, resilient…man.  Doesn’t she sound like our kids with APRAXIA?

Before I closed my computer one last thing on her website caught my eye.  She wrote a book.  Hmm.  Maybe she writes more about her speech impediment in her book?

I saw that she was going to have a Colorado book signing.

 

Interesting.  I clicked on it.

May 29th 2015

Wait….that’s…..today!?  Oh my gosh.  She is in Colorado!!  She is in Denver tonight!

Insert internal struggle.

I have to go!  This is amazing.  I have to ask her.  I can ask her in person!  Laura, are you crazy?  A has speech therapy and swimming tonight.  You can’t go down there.  Plus, are there even any tickets left?  It’s the day of.  Well, I could check.  I could check….and then if there aren’t any tickets left I can wipe my hands of it and know it wasn’t meant to be.

So I called Tattered Cover.  There are tickets left, but they are almost gone.  I have to buy the book to get a ticket.  Do I have to come in and buy the book?  Oh, I can order it over the phone and pick it up at the book signing with my ticket?  Do I want one?  Um…um….this is crazy right?  I’m crazy.  Oh what the hell.  Yes.  I’ll buy one.  Yes thank you. I’m number 422 out of an allotted 500.

What did I just do?  I don’t watch MMA.  Just this morning I didn’t even know who Ronda Rousey was and now I have bought her book and a ticket to go to her book signing on a night we are slammed with appointments.  My husband is going to think I lost my mind.

Okay, I won’t tell anyone.  It’s only crazy if she doesn’t have apraxia right?

I feed my kids lunch.

Who am I kidding?  I can’t keep a secret.  I text two of my apraxia mommy friends.

“Do you believe that coincidences are not really coincidences?” and I tell them the story.  The consensus?

“Go”

I tell my daughter’s SLP…her response?

“You have to go!” and “You should bring your walk flyer!”

Yep.  Definitely going.  I packed a CASANA apraxia brochure and inserted my walk poster and off we went.

A was STOKED.  She LOVES books.  She could not believe this big book was for her.  She held it like a prize and she would NOT let me hold it.

We stood in line and people thought she was adorable.  Ronda’s youngest fan.  Well…maybe….if Ronda has apraxia this moment is epic.  I started to get nervous.  What am I doing here?  I dragged my 5 year old baby to a book signing on a mother’s intuition.  Oh well.  If nothing else, this woman is pretty kick ass.  She’s not famous for her good looks (even though she’s beautiful), she’s not famous for being a reality star, she’s famous for being freaking talented and smart.  I started liking her in spite of anything.

Finally it was our turn.  As we got closer, her bodyguards were crabby and everyone on her team seemed tired.  They were literally pushing people after their book was signed so they wouldn’t take up more time for selfies or whatever. She wasn’t personalizing books.  In fact, you couldn’t even hand her your book.  They handed it to her for you.  Sigh.  I took out my hidden apraxia brochure.

Damn.

Oh well, maybe we’ll still be able to talk.  Those body guards though.  Gulp

“Okay sweetie, your turn.”

I sent A up to the counter by herself because I read in one interview that Ronda has a soft spot for kids who seem to have the same speech disorder she did, so she really tries to take time for them.  This was no exception.

A walks shyly up to the counter.

“What’s your name?” Ronda asked.

A answered but she couldn’t understand so she leaned over and asked again.  I only got this one picture 11393018_10205134887824400_1278270075692218729_n

 

before I went over to clarify.

Ronda started signing her book.  I said quickly, “A has a neurological speech disorder like you did and we are inspired by you because you overcame that and so much more.”

Almost on auto-pilot Ronda responded, “Yep, I had to overcome a lot to get here.”

I’m crazy nervous now.  I have to ask her like ASAP.  Luckily she’s taking a long time to sign the book.  Laura say it!!

“Did you have apraxia?”

Ronda stops signing dead in her tracks and looks me in the eye and says, “What did you just say?”

“uh uh apraxia?  dyspraxia?  Was that your speech impediment?”

She looks incredulous and repeats “apraxia, yes, this is what they think I had.”

I smiled.  I knew it.  Un-freaking believable.  I look over at the body guards.  What the heck.  I throw the CASANA brochure on the counter.  They move in, but she motions them to stop.  I say,

“This is information on apraxia.  If you really did have it, will you say that in your interviews instead of speech impediment.  It would mean so much to our kids who are struggling with it.”

She again looked at the brochure before looking back up at me and said, “I will.  I really will.”

She seemed sincere.  I instantly believed she would.  I have A give her a hug and try to push her along (bodyguards are watching) and she says,

“You know, my mom is a PhD psychologist, and SHE had never heard of it.  She took me to the Universities and many of them had never heard of it.”

“Yes!” I replied.  “Yes!  It’s still not well known or understood.”

She starts to get really worked up now.  Emotions start spilling out of her.  I read in an interview people think she’s so tough, but really she wears her heart on her sleeve and she was, right then, in that moment.

“They wanted to put me in a special classroom away from my friends.  They thought I was stupid!!  But by 4th grade I was top of my class in algebra, and by highschool I tested gifted.”

“Yes!” I again replied.  “Yes, these are our kids.”

She looked back down at the brochure before looking up again and said, “I will.  I really will.”

A and I ran out of there.  Before we left I pointed at Ronda and said “Look!!  She has apraxia,” and then I pointed to a line of almost 100 people who were still waiting and said, “and all these people want her autograph!!”

My daughter smiled.  We ran out into the rain laughing.

“You’re going to be famous!” I said, and we laughed.

It was very late by this point and we still had a 30 minute drive home.  I stopped by my parents house to tell them the story.  They couldn’t believe it!

I finally got home and ate dinner while my husband put A to bed.  I fired up my computer to start writing this blog post, but checked fb.  Just for the heck of it I went to Ronda’s fb page to like it, and that’s when I saw this:

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She reposted the brochure I gave her!!  She must have done that first thing upon completing the book signing!!  She IS one of our kids!  So freaking awesome!!

Even if she doesn’t do anything else, even if she doesn’t say she has apraxia (but I think she will), A and I will always have that moment…..that moment when we met a true fighter who beat apraxia and so much more, just like A will.

We will always have that book confirming what I have hoped all along:

“I never would have been able to do any of those things without hope.  The kind of hope I’m talking about is the belief that something good will come.  That everything you’re going through and everything you’ve gone through will be worth the struggles and frustrations.  The kind of hope I’m talking about is a deep belief that the world can be changed, that the impossible is possible.” – Ronda Rousey

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