Like any other young woman traveling abroad for four weeks, Devon Gallagher, 23, wanted to document her new experiences by taking photos and sharing with friends. Gallagher decided to get creative with her pictures, she used her prosthetic leg as a chalkboard to write the names of all the new locations she was visiting.
She tells Yahoo Beauty, “I was sharing the photos as I was going along on my travels and they got a lot of positive feedback from my friends.”
Gallagher shared the photos with friends who kept on asking for more. Eventually she had so many she decided to post the album on Reddit. She quickly won over the Reddit community racking up 3,472 comments and over 85,000 likes.
She titled her post, “Hopping around (parts of) Europe” and wrote, “Got myself a chalkboard leg and went on a trip.”
Gallagher was born with a congenital bone disease called Pseudarthrosis. The condition made a “false joint” in her tibia bone not allowing her to put any weight on her leg and making her foot unusable. Through multiple surgeries, doctors tried to save the leg but the attempts were unsuccessful.
“When I was four, they decided it might be best to kind of ‘give up’ and just amputate the foot and let me live a life with a prosthetic — so that’s what they did,” she says.
The Philadelphia native has undergone 15 leg-related surgeries in her young life, and despite having lost a leg she remains positive and attributes her joy to her mother.
“My mom raised me in a way that really normalized being an amputee which I’m extremely grateful for,” she says. “She made sure I never felt entitled to special treatment and I think that set the foundation for me to be able to have such a positive attitude and good sense of humor. ”
Her most recent surgery was this past January and Gallagher is remaining hopeful about its success. “The disease I have made a lot of my leg muscles very under-developed, so my knee-cap used to dislocate a lot,” she says “I’m hoping this most recent one did the job, so far so good.”
Now that she’s back from her Euro-trip, Gallagher is getting ready to start work as an environmental engineer this fall. She will be employed at a pharmaceutical company doing environment, health, safety, and sustainability work through a rotational program.
Aside from traveling, Gallagher counts skiing as one of her favorite hobbies. Of course when she tells people she loves to ski, the question of how she does it inevitably comes up. “I just ski on one ski and use special poles called outriggers that have little baby skis on the ends of them,” she says.
Of course, seeing someone with such contagious optimism and humor, we had to ask her for some life advice. Gallagher’s advice to others is simple. “Life is just so much more enjoyable when you’re able to laugh at yourself and laugh off a situation,” she says.
This isn’t the first time Gallagher has gone viral. For her college graduation, she posted a photo in her cap and gown and received praise for her cap decoration.
“I guess if I focused on the negatives life would just suck,” she says. “So it’s easier to focus on the positives.”
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