Donna Lancaster was born with a congenital defect that left her without knees, lower legs or hip joints. Weighing less than four pounds at birth, doctors said she would never be able to walk. But at 11 months, Donna did walk, proof of a strong character that would go a long way in helping her get through the obstacles to come.
Donna’s parents chose to raise her as if she were free of any birth defects, and in doing so, gave Donna the courage to act as if she were any other child her age. When all her friends started riding bikes, she begged her parents for one until they finally caved in. After several scrapes and tumbles, Donna learned to ride the bike even though her feet couldn’t reach both pedals at once.
During her junior year at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Kansas, Donna wrote to the Mayo clinic inquiring about the possibility of wearing artificial legs. She was then referred to Erick Hanicke at the P.W. Hanicke Company in Kansas City, Kansas. Erick learned the craft of limb making from his uncle, P.W., and would later create the prosthetic legs Donna wore for the next three decades.
Hesitant to wear the artificial limbs at first, Donna found it was just easier to look like everyone else around her, and being 20 inches taller made that possible. For the first time in her life, she could greet people at eye level.
Soon after, while working as a medical technician, Donna bought her first car. The vehicle was equipped with special hand controls so she could drive without the use of her legs. Later on, she would fly a plane in the same manner, with hand controlled brakes and rudders. In addition to being a pilot and medical technician, Donna has also worked as a real estate broker, aircraft dispatcher and ground school instructor.
Today Donna Lancaster lives near Lake Whitney, Texas and is thoroughly enjoying retired life. In addition to her hobbies, which include playing bridge and flying, Donna shares her story at 12-Step meetings and conventions across the United States and Canada. She was introduced to the program through Neal, Donna’s ex-husband and a recovering alcoholic. Standing Tall is her first book