Mari Paz is a regular teenager with many aspirations who has been a patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston since she was 3. Mari was born in Monterrey, Mexico, with a proximal femoral focal deficiency and hypoplasia of the upper limb. Her family heard about the outreach clinics offered on the Texas/Mexico border by the Houston Shriners Hospital and were immediately interested in going. Her mother completed the necessary paperwork for the hospital and for travel in the United States. Eventually, Mari Paz was seen in the Rio Grande Valley Outreach Clinic in La Feria, Texas, which would become where she had most of her regular doctor appointments throughout her childhood.
Now at age 17, Mari Paz has had many follow-up visits in both La Feria and Houston for prosthetic leg services. In her lifetime she has had eight prostheses and traveled numerous times from Monterrey to Houston. With her graduation from our program quickly approaching, Mari Paz expresses a mix of emotions, “I am sad that I will not be here anymore, but I do know that for every beginning there is an end. I am so thankful for everything that this hospital has given me and hope to return to Houston to share my story one day.”
Mari Paz has built on her confidence through modeling. She says that, “It is about accepting my virtues, my body and myself.” Mari Paz marvels that she used to wear clothing that disguised her prosthetic limb and missing lower arm with long sleeve shirts and pants year round. Last year she made up her mind to wear clothing that accentuated all of her features, including her physical differences. “I wanted to become more feminine and express myself. There should be no reason for me to isolate myself from a world that has so much love and so many opportunities.”
Opportunity came knocking when Mari Paz was approached by a photographer while she was on the metro in Monterrey. Not too long afterwards, Mari Paz would appear in an online project titled Belleza Sin Limites (Beauty without Limits). The goal of the project is to break the stereotypes that exist in the world of beauty and demonstrate that beauty exists in all body types and forms. The 17-year-old shared her own words of wisdom about this accomplishment. “Disabilities are something that I believe really only exist in our minds. People can accomplish anything if they love themselves. People may view things as taboo, but we need to learn to accept that not everyone in the world is the same.”
Mari Paz is not only graduating from the Shriners Hospitals health care system, she is also graduating from high school with honors. When she is not modeling, Mari Paz enjoys dancing, playing basketball and exercising at the gym. She plans on going to a university in Mexico and majoring in philosophy and possibly teaching or whatever comes her way. Constantly motivated, Mari Paz expressed some of her personal goals. “I want a future where I can value myself and do things on my own. There are no limits, we just put those in our head. We just need to listen to our hearts to go far.” Without a doubt, Mari Paz is an exceptional person with a bright future ahead of her. No matter what path she decides to take in life, she is sure to maintain a positive attitude and inspire others along the way.