Keeping up with Jessica Cox isn’t easy, and neither (as I’ve learned) is keeping a blog like this one updated. So while it may appear that not much has been going on with our production, the opposite is actually true! 2012 was a busy year for us all, and a wonderful one for Jessica. Not only did she tie the knot with fiancé Patrick in May, but in November she received a Susan G. Komen Inspiration Award. In between these two marvelous events, we followed Jessica to American’s heartland. In Iowa we filmed Jessica’s visit with a family whose 4-year-old daughter Grace was born (like Jessica) without arms. For Grace, who had been watching videos of Jessica on Youtube since she was two, Jessica’s appearance in her house was nothing short of a miracle. The two bonded quickly as you can imagine, and Gracie proudly showed off her new friend to her assembled brothers, sisters and cousin. But while Jessica’s visit was clearly important to Grace, it was her quiet, confident counseling of parents Greg and Patricia that really made the trip worthwhile. “What I am seeing is that Gracie is fine,” Jessica told us. “But her parents needed to see and hear directly from me that despite having no arms, she can do anything she wants and she really doesn’t have many limits compared to any other four-year-old. She has a bright future and I think they just need to be reassured about that.” As part of the visit Jessica visited Grace’s school, where she gave a presentation to the entire student body. It was obvious from the reception — the students gave Jessica their undivided attention which for elementary students is a real achievement — that she made an impression. I imagine the visit will pay dividends in their future lives, and certainly affect their treatment of fellow student Gracie.
We coordinated our visit to Iowa with a special event in nearby Kansas City called “Challenge Air”. Founded by former fighter pilot Rick Amber, who lost the use of his legs in an aviation accident on the USS Hancock, Challenge Air’s mission is to allow children with physical and other challenges and to see the world from a different perspective – from above. Jessica joined a fantastic group of volunteer pilots who took dozens of children flying. One of them was Grace, who had the distinction of going up in a twin-engine airplane piloted by Austen Plain with Jessica in the co-pilot’s seat. We had no idea how Grace would react to going up in an airplane for the first time. Would all the noise and the sight of the ground dropping away frighten her, or heaven forbid would she panic or get airsick? As it turned out, none of the above: Grace seemed to love her time in the air, and once back down on terra firma headed off to the computer flight simulator table. Following Jessica’s lead, she took the stick in her feet and started flying.
This is just a short preview of one part of our film, but I think it gives insight into the project’s purpose and course. Jessica is making a difference all the time, sometimes with just one individual, sometimes with groups of people, and we’re grateful to be there documenting her efforts. In the coming weeks we’re going to make an important announcement about a major opportunity both for Jessica and the film, and I hope you’ll be able to help spread the word and make it possible for us to continue what so far, has been a wonderful journey.