Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ottawa woman’s story to be featured on TLC this weekend

August 18, 2010


When 34-year-old JoAnne Fluke was born prematurely, doctors thought she would only live for 72 hours. But she defied the doctors’ prognoses and was home two weeks later.

Born with a rare birth defect in which the bottom half of her spine is missing, Fluke has tiny webbed legs that she can’t use or control and her body is shorter than a 10-month-old child. Overcoming what would be a tremendous obstacle to some, Fluke has a ferociously independent spirit with a full-time career and a passion for dance.

On Sunday, TLC will air Fluke’s inspiring story with the premiere of a one-hour special, “Dancer with Tiny Legs.” It will be aired at 9 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband channels 68 and 268.

Fluke is fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a professional dancer. In just four weeks, she will compete in her first “able-bodied” dance competition. But first, she must audition for a new dance partner.

“I’m very excited about the show, but I hope it sparks the nation’s passion and love to do what they love,” Fluke said. “I really want people to follow their dreams.”

The tiny dancer was born with caudal regression syndrome. As a result of her birth defect, her heart is rotated, her liver is where her stomach should be, and she has 1/10 of the intestines of most people. Although she was once confined to a wheelchair, Fluke’s optimistic outlook has allowed her to live a normal life.

Fluke is a 2000 Baker University graduate. She was named Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2005 and has been an advocate for people with disabilities. In 2004, she traveled to Africa to donate wheelchairs through a not-for-profit ministry. She also has worked as a summer camp counselor teaching children with spina bifida to dance and most recently helped found a nonprofit alternative dance troupe called Groovability in Kansas City, Mo., where she serves as the executive director.

While at Baker, Fluke was a member of Phi Mu sorority. She majored in religion with minors in sociology and music. Fluke lives in Ottawa and works at 68 Inside Sports in Overland Park.


TopJayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

Besides I think if you are watching a recording, it invalidates the whole male female thing.


TopJayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

Vertigo. Sorry you have to refer to a card to remember you are a man......:-)


Roland Gunslinger 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm sorry... as interesting as this sounds if I were t o watch anything on TLC I'd have to turn in my man card.


amesn 3 years, 8 months ago

I love hearing about inspirational stories like this! I know a guy who is a paraplegic and only has one leg as a result of a terrible car accident in his early 20's who is dependant on no one. He cooks, cleans, MOWS HIS OWN YARD WITH A PUSH MOWER?? (Crazy!), and even scoops his own sidewalk in the winter! Another fella I am aquainted with was also seriously injured in a car accident at age 24, broke his neck at C5 leaving him with limited use of his arms and upper body and of course below the waist is completely impaired. He was married at the time with 4 very young children and his wife divorced him and remarried right after the divorce but he didn't let this get him down. He had no education and his job prospects were limited because of his physical limitations so he went to college, graduated with a bachelor's in psychology and worked for 20 some years afterwards. Its just amazing the ambition these people have and then u have some individuals who choose to collect disability simply because obesity has rendered them 'helpless' or 'disabled' to do anything for themselves..let alone mow their own yard :)


Benjamin Roberts 3 years, 8 months ago

I like pictures; especially with human interest stories such as this. Here is an October 2009 picture from a ballroom dancing story (

As mentioned in the story, Ms. Fluke was Ms. Wheelchair in 2005. Here is more information and pictures from that time.

Congratulations Ms. Fluke. You are an inspiration and living testimony of American exceptionalism. Thank you!


Deja Coffin 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to DVR it now so I don't miss it!! Congrats to you Ms. Fluke!!


blue73harley 3 years, 8 months ago

Wow. Makes my life's accomplishments seem pretty mundane. Keep dancin'!


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