The day I met Ronda Rousey, and she told my sister to “keep fighting” for her words!

By Laura Smith|August 20, 2016|#knockoutapraxia, Apraxia, apraxia blog|

Hi Katerina!

I’m so excited to have you here today.  I saw in the Ronda Rousey #knockoutparaxia your mom posted a video of you attending a Women’s Leadership Conference in Chicago where you were able to ask Ronda a question about apraxia and meet her in person.  Can you explain to my readers why you wanted to go to this?

Back in May, I was sitting at my school’s awards assembly when I got a text from my mom, telling me that I had been invited to the Astellas Women in Action conference in Chicago by a family friend who works for Astellas. My first reaction was “OMG, yeah!” I couldn’t tell my mom though, because I wasn’t even allowed to have my phone! (oops.) My mom was so anxious for an answer she came to my assembly and found me in the bleachers! It was a huge opportunity that a girl like me doesn’t get very often, so I said yes right away!

Before the conference, the company launched an app that connected everyone attending. It was a smart idea, because there were people flying in all around the world for this conference. And in the app, you could compete in little “competitions” with everyone. There was an “Ask Robin” and “Ask Ronda” competition, as well as a selfie contest. The “Ask Ronda” contest was the only one I competed in, and I only entered one question. “My sister has been diagnosed with apraxia, a disability you once had. From your experience, what can I do to help her succeed?” And that was the beginning of this amazing experience.

I think it’s so amazing that as a sibling you have so much concern for your younger sister you were prompted to go to this.  In the video you took, I heard you holding back tears.  We don’t often think about how apraxia can affect the siblings.  Can you tell us why you were so emotional?

Well, I had a bit of a rocky start at the conference. My flight had been canceled, my mom and I drove to Chicago instead, and I was very tired. I had a whirlwind of emotions all weekend, and when Robin Roberts announced her name, I immediately started crying! And that was even before the interview! I had no idea that the one question I submitted would be chosen out of hundreds, and the way Ronda answered it answered a lot of personal questions I had. I knew how to help my sister when she was younger, but I have no idea how to help her now and in the future. My little sister is in first grade, and other kids are already asking one of my brothers (grade 4) why his little sister is stupid. And it hurts because I had no idea how to help her succeed. But thanks to Ronda, I know how, and just the thought of that makes me very happy and emotional.

You were able to go back and meet Ronda! What was that experience like?  What was Ronda like?

The whole experience was just amazing. When I walked into the room for the photo opportunities, I immediately started crying again. I made a security guard tear up a little bit too! Actually, I don’t think I stopped crying until that afternoon because the whole experience was so surreal. Ronda was so sweet the entire time and kept hugging me, and telling me I was an amazing older sister for asking my question.

What did you learn (if anything) from this experience?

I had no idea my little 2 minute video would affect so many people, and it puts into perspective how many families have loved ones with apraxia, and are going through the same things my family is. I’m so glad I could help others with my own experiences!

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Autographed picture by Ronda Rousey encouraging Katerina’s sister to “keep fighting!.”

You experience resonated with so many parents and families!  For me, I can so appreciate your description of Ronda.  She was the same with me and my daughter; sweet, kind, and genuine!  Thank you for telling your story.  You are obviously an AMAZING young woman, and your sister is so lucky to have you in her corner!

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