A “Lil Positivity”: 16-Year-Old Amputee Living Life To The Fullest

- By Bossip Staff

Before you start thinking “Poor Thang!” hold your horses, Kiera doesn’t want anyone’s pity because she is living life to the fullest.

Kiera Brinkley doesn’t mind curious children, and mostly brushes off the stares of adults. Every once in awhile, someone will ask the 16-year-old about what happened to her legs and arms. She’ll explain: doctors had to amputate them or a bacterial infection that raged in her blood would have killed her. She was two at the time.

Sometimes, she’ll get a rude stare or a harsh question and her normally sunny mood shifts. “I got in a fight with a shark,” she’ll flash back. She doesn’t let it get her down. She roams the halls of a Portland high school in a wheelchair, chatting with friends or taking in a hug or two. At home, she cares for her two sisters and a little brother, and makes them dinner.

Through it all, Kiera dances, a lot, in the living room with her mother as her audience, in a practice studio at New York’s renowned Juilliard School and on stage with her high school classmates wildly cheering.

When she sways, she’s no longer the girl in the wheelchair, the one with the missing limbs. “It lets people see the real me,” she says. Watching her, it makes you wonder how a little girl who lost her arms and legs at an age when most children are still getting used to their bodies grew into a young woman — and dancer — who believes there are no limits, just hurdles.

At home, Kiera worked with physical therapists and learned to walk with prostesis. But she was most comfortable getting around on her thighs. Kiera (pronounced Key-AY-RAH) was a bubbly, eager to help toddler. Once, she even managed to carry her crying infant sister, Uriah, to her mother in another room. She made everyone smile, says her 36-year-old mother, Elesha Boyd. One day, Kiera fell severely ill. Boyd left Uriah with her mother, and rushed Kiera to the hospital. As they waited in the emergency room, Kiera had a seizure. Doctors told Boyd that Kiera had an infection of the blood.

As the bacteria spread and tissues died, Kiera slipped into a coma. Surgeons amputated all but a few inches of her legs, her left arm at the elbow and her right arm above the wrist.

Much of that time was a haze. Boyd floated in a netherworld of worry and grief. They depended heavily on their church and faith. She says she never felt alone, sharing the pain she felt as a mother with her church family.

When the day came to leave the hospital, Boyd knew that she could not let disability limit Kiera’s future.

“She doesn’t have any boundaries,” says Boyd, a bank supervisor who also danced and played flute growing up in Portland. “She just has hurdles, like we all have. Life for her wasn’t going to be: ‘You can’t do that.'”

At home, Kiera worked with physical therapists and learned to walk with prosthesis. But she was most comfortable getting around on her thighs. Uriah copied her like little sisters do, scooting around on her behind and never learning to crawl properly.

Before Kiera began kindergarten, Boyd asked staff from Portland Shriners Hospital for Children — where Kiera had received much of her treatment — to visit the school and show a video about the kids who are treated at the hospital.

Boyd hoped that Kiera’s soon-to-be classmates wouldn’t treat her differently than any other kid.

They did — she was greeted like a rock star. “She was eager to go to school, ready to try anything,” Boyd says. It soon became clear that the daughter of a woman who filled their home with dance, music, singing and art wanted to dance, limbs or no limbs. When it came time to move to middle school, Kiera won a lottery to attend DaVinci Arts Middle School.

“I was so scared about middle school,” Boyd remembers. But she let go, giving Kiera space.

School counselors advised teacher Kristen Brayson that a sixth grader without arms and legs would be joining her tap dance class. She remembers Kiera bounding from her wheelchair and doing cartwheels around the studio. This girl didn’t need any special treatment, Brayson recalls thinking.

Boyd and her mother stitched small metal tap plates onto a pair of shorts so Kiera could dance with the same percussive rhythms as her classmates. The music drives her spirit, Brayson says.

“I think that piece of her was going to drive her soul, no matter what,” the teacher says. Kiera introduced herself to the school at the fall talent show with a hip-hop routine to Lil’ Bow Wow. The crowd cheered, chanting her name.

“She did this magic,” Brayson says. It stayed with Kiera into high school. Shriners’ staffers contacted the Dream Factory, a national organization that grants wishes to critically and chronically ill children. The group invited Kiera to live out one of her dreams: A trip with her family to New York City for a Juilliard workshop. Kiera choreographed her own routines, always imagining each move with the full reach of arm and leg.

At Juilliard, she taught one of her dances to students. At the end of the session, Kiera and her mother sat off to the side, and the young choreographer yelled: one, two, three, go! She had never seen one of her works performed as she’d seen it in her mind. “My mom and I just sat and bawled — to see tall, long-armed, long-legged people do my dance,” Kiera says.

Friday, April 2 was a special day. Kiera was going to perform at the school’s annual Diversity Assembly, a morning-long student showcase that included hip-hop break-dancing, Japanese pop songs, hula and Vietnamese ceremonial dance. Her dance, set to Babyface’s “The Day,” was dedicated to a young cousin who had died in a fire several years earlier. As she danced, each move was charged with emotion. Tears wet her cheeks. On the final note, as she bent in a graceful bow, students jumped from their seats, applauding and shouting her name.


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    S e e k i n g A f f l u e n t c O m is a place for like-minded people who understand that intelligence, success and drive are key elements to attraction.

  • Tonya

    Wow! She’s awesome. God Bless Her!!! No Excuses!

  • C Allen

    And people with more physical ability choose to sit around and do nothing but make excuses about why things don’t work out for them…..she is an inspiration to us all

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    god bless her!

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  • Tee

    Wow, great things are surely coming her way. Should be an inspiration even to the most healthiest of people. A blessing!

  • 2Sweet

    Bless her heart, wish her nothing but the best…

  • Nique (Life in the Fab Lane)

    @We “Blacks” Are The REAL Hebrew Israelites

    I feel u. I learned last summer and its one of the best things Ive ever done. Great exercise & stress reliever!

    Good luck 😀

  • Bacqui

    Yes we can!

  • Shy Gossip-*

    Woww I’m a ballet dancer and I’ve never seen a story as wonderful and inspiring as that I would love too meet her one dayy

  • drenk

    wow thats awesome!! reminds of a guy who had the same thing happen to him as a kid and he was a pretty good high school wrestler

    good for her!

  • Kim

    Amazing!!!! Im so done complaining about things in my life…because someone out there is overcoming tougher obstacles.She just inspired me!!!
    God is good =)

  • Glok.. They say dont let this cruel world getcha ,...Only God can judge me now!


  • Glok.. They say dont let this cruel world getcha ,...Only God can judge me now!


  • Blah

    Love this story! Melts my cold black heart.

  • Glok.. They say dont let this cruel world getcha ,...Only God can judge me now!



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  • bluekid

    When will black men learn……???

  • Mac


  • bluekid

    Ok! Sorry I posted on the wrong page to many post open LOL

    This girl is a shining star, we could learn a thing or two from her, this girl is a beautiful human being and she is letting folks know you have no excuses when you have all that God has given you to work with.

  • Soul Touch

    wonderful girl, and so beautiful too.

  • tg

    God Bless You young lady. Live your life to the fullest. You could probably show some of us how to live our lives to the fullest instead of dwelling on insignificant stuff.

  • Dee

    Thats a good thing that she doesnt let anything stop her from doing things she likes. =D

  • LEA

    GOD Bless her!! I teared up reading this story…

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    Anyone who wants to b**ch and moan about their lives should use this as an inspiration that anything is possible if you try hard enough and not let obstacles get in your way.

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