Living and thriving with a limb difference

Amanda and Samantha Simmons hold their new cat, Peaches during an interview with Channel 4 earlier this month.
Amanda and Samantha Simmons hold their new cat, Peaches during an interview with Channel 4 earlier this month.

In the Simmons family, differences are embraced, and now a kitty with an amputated leg has found her forever home.

“We were specifically looking for a cat with a limb difference,” said Amanda Simmons of adopting a cat with a disability. “Her hind foot was turned back and fused to the femur and the whole left leg had to be amputated.”

The 7-month-old cat was adopted from Demi’s Ani mal Rescue in Parker, Colorado and now belongs to Samantha, an outgoing third grader. Last year, Samantha proudly says, she had the second best handwriting in her class. An “A” and “B” student, she also enjoys art and drawing.

Like her cat, Samantha also has a limb difference. Samantha was born with ectodermal dysplasia which affects all four of her limbs. Samantha’s hands and feet are unique. Her hands have two fingers and her feet each have two toes.

Since birth, Samantha has gone through six surgeries and is expected to undergo more.

At one point, doctors only gave Samantha a 5% chance of walking and even suggested amputating her feet.

Her mom, Amanda says of Samantha defying the odds, “It is important that she knows she can do anything. We don’t tell her she can’t do something. We tell her to figure out how to do it differently. She isn’t going to do it the same as everyone else.”

Amanda confesses the family wanted a cat with a limb difference to show Samantha that she is not the only one with a limb difference.

“It’s important for her to see it’s not just her. It’s animals. It’s other children and adults.”

Samantha has also had the opportunity to spend time with others similar to herself at Camp No Limits in Idaho. The camp is only for children and adults with missing limbs or limb differences. “It is an amazing place,” said Amanda.

She continues, “You don’t discount people, animals or anything just because they are unique – they all have a lot to give.”

And while she is bonding with her new striped cat, Peaches – her name chosen because as Samantha says, “She is sweet, round and fuzzy.” Amanda echoes these sentiments saying, “She is super sweet and loves to rub.” Peaches is also playful and will fetch pencils. As an added bonus, the name Peaches is reminiscent of their home state.

The Simmons family, including, dad, Bo, and older brother, Damon, moved to Kremmling in the summer of 2017 from Georgia. The family had researched the best places to live if you have a disability and Colorado was the 4th best state.

“We moved to Colorado for Samantha and it has been the best decision,” said Amanda who says her daughter now skis, swims and is planning her 9th birthday party for later this month. “Everyone has been so supportive.”