When Heather Kaminsky gave birth to Destiny 11 years ago, the amniotic band had wrapped around Destiny’s right leg. Heather also had gestational diabetes, a result of which was Destiny’s left leg having only one short bone in it. At six months, Destiny became a double amputee. As a toddler, she received prosthetics legs.
Destiny looks just like everyone else. She doesn’t like it when she feels different. Like most pre-teen girls heading for sixth grade, fitting in with her peers matters to her.
“She has a conflict about people seeing her as different, so she tends to shy away,” her mom says. That wasn’t a problem when she was cheering for the Carollwood Hurricanes, but when Destiny wanted to play soccer, the local teams told her, “Sorry, no.”
“It was hard to find an outlet for her,” Heather says. “She wanted to do soccer, but they were worried about the legs falling off. She wasn’t able to keep up, running-wise, so she did get discouraged because she wasn’t fast enough.”
Last month, things changed for Destiny. She spent a week in Louisville with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team.
“It was pretty cool,” Destiny says while practicing at Gulfport’s Hoyt Field. “The coaches help you learn. The ones in school they teach you but not so much. They help you, just not a lot.”
“It was absolutely amazing,” her mom says, smiling. “It opened the door for her to see she can do these type of things.”
Heather and Destiny live in Tampa, but Heather works at Tropicana Field. One of her coworkers told her about VetSports and Taylor Urruela, a combat-wounded amputee who has become the face of combat-wounded athletes. Urruela, along with the other players on the VetSports teams, practices in Gulfport on the weekends. He invited Destiny to come out for a practice.
The last Sunday in June, Destiny did just that. Her new teammates gave her tips on her swing and worked with her.
“I think I was keeping up. It was pretty fun,” Destiny said after practice, her lips blue from an icy treat.
“You can just see the confidence in her building,” Heather says from the stands.
Heather was 17 when she gave birth to Destiny. Doctors, fearing Destiny might be too much for a teenage mom to handle, asked Heather right away if she wanted to give her baby up for adoption. Today, Heather watches her daughter run and play catch on the field. She smiles.
“She says I’m her hero, but truthfully?” says Heather. “She’s mine.”