I would like to take time and say thank you to Robert and Carolyn Ballou for being my parents and for how they raised me. I always hear people say if it weren’t for this person or that person, they would not be the person they are today. In my case, this is the most accurate statement. I do not know if my parents sat down and had a team meeting on how they were going to raise a child with a disability. I am sure they prayed, they were big on our family praying together and for one another. Somehow, they decided that I was to be treated no different because I had a disability. They did not once allow me to use my cleft palate as a crutch, an excuse, or an obstacle. If anything, they taught me how to use it as a tool. To push me to be greater than the disability. My mother always stressed that I had a cleft palate; do not let it have you. Something I did not understand until I was older. That was saying taught me to own it. It took a long time and a lot of different experiences to get here. But yes, I am Iva, and yes, I have a cleft palate. But that’s not all I have. I have an incredible mind, filled with creativity, a great sense of humor and positivity, and a killer smile. Let’s talk about that instead. For that, I must say thank you to my parents for giving me such a small but powerful gift. I would love to give that gift to others, whether young or old. The world is already set up to handicap and cripple us more than we already are. It is up to us to build each other up and make each other feel strong, beautiful, loved, etc.