Whitney Ford is a 21-year-old who is on a mission to make a difference with her nonprofit organization He Is My Crutch. The faith based organization was created by Whitney to encourage all, but especially those with disabilities to love their flaws to lean on God. Whitney, a Huntsville, Alabama native, knows what it’s like to deal with a disability as she was born with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele. Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele is a birth defect in which the bone and the spine do not connect and the or nerves protrudes out of the lower back. This defect has presented a lot of challenges in Whitney’s life, but none of them have stopped her from spreading joy and encouragement.
Q: What inspired your to create He Is My Crutch ?
W:He Is My Crutch initially was just the journey I have had with my Spina Bifida. Walking with forearm crutches many people think that is all that comes with SB but its very complex and all of my life I’ve always heard from my peers that watching me inspires them. “Whitney I Wish I had your strength,” but the truth is I’m as weak as they come but in its midst his strength is made perfect. One line from Christian rapper KB’s Here We Go song puts it in perspective. It goes “His weight and Glory , that’s how I fight depression. You say God is our crutch now? He’s much more like my stretcher.”
Q: What’s a typical day in the life with Spina Bifida?
W: A typical day in my life with SB is challenging especially if I’m going out. I fight depression at times, because I often feel burdensome trying to do things with others. I recently took a trip to Florida and our room was upstairs they didn’t have an elevator so I was disappointed their wasn’t room for my chair and it was just a lot. I still had a great time. I also felt weird in public in a bathing suit my SB comes with cleft foot I’ve always been really insecure about them. I’m coming home to my malfunctioned power wheelchair. It is a lot dealing with being a woman, a black woman at that and just add SB too. Also because I’m young sometimes SB can look not that bad or invisible; people think I’m a kid playing in a wheelchair . I could go on for days with the kidney problems. I didn’t grow up around others with SB and couldn’t go to camps and such. Both my sisters were perfectly healthy babies so it can get lonely. Its quite a bit, but He has kept me through it.
Q: What methods do you use to stay positive?
W: I wouldn’t say I’m always positive but I pray a lot! When I feel depression hitting I try to pray, but let’s be honest I’ve been so depressed to where I wanted to just crawl in a ball and die a time or two thousand. They’re not always the strongest prayers, sometimes they’re just tears.. Other things that really motivate me I’ve found which may be corny, but I don’t care is Disney music. I love to watch the Cinderella with Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston and the song “Impossible” and “In My Own Little Corner” really restore hope for me. I named a page on my website after the latter, actually the video is on my website. I also think of the people who pull strength from me and I say to myself that my work isn’t done and I can’t quit now! It gets rough sometimes, but I’m still here so I must be doing it right.
Q: What have your accomplished with your organization so far ?
W: I’ve accomplished being able to connect people with different stories and raise awareness of many disabilities. I just had a brother share his PTSD story and he is connecting with others already. I’m planning a first event and raising money as of right now. Each month I reach out to find people who have experienced whatever that month’s awarenesses are and share it as their “interdependent story” to show others we’re all in this together. We all need each other and we all need Him. It’s important to me that it goes past just a social media thing though I love seeing others using the hash tag and relating.
Q: What message do you want to relay to others through your journey?
W: The message I want to relay is that is okay to be broken. It’s okay to not be okay, but what is not okay is to quit. In all that we are faced with in life we are not alone. The human race thrives off of trust and inspiration from one another and pretending to be perfect isn’t gonna help anyone the way that opening up and speaking out for the glory of God will. The apostle Paul wrote about His imperfection, He wrote about glorying in tribulation and having to put His flesh under. He and Job are two of the most inspiring biblical characters for me aside from those who had no name like the woman with the issue of blood and the man who was born blind. I read the other day the man who was born blind inspired Nick Vujicic too who is an inspiration to me. I think that it goes beyond physical disability there are a lot of people looking for what they did to deserve the cards they were dealt. They did nothing, they are for the glory of God. That doesnt mean it will be fun, but there is purpose. I grew up awkward, I was picked on and Im still discovering myself daily, but God trusts me with my burden for His glory. So many people with PTSD, Anxiety, Disfigurations and things out of the “norm “of all sorts and they need to know that they are not a big ball of sin. They’re hope for others. They’re God’s battle ax. Ive been told that I have SB, because I don’t have faith. Im not the only story like that. Not just disability but those who’ve been abused are hope to others as long as we can submit to God and surrender the hurt. He Is My Crutch and He Is Your Crutch Too.
I first met Whitney years ago and to be honest I never knew that there was anything different about her until months later. Her journey has taught me to be appreciative of things that often times I take for granted. It has also taught me perseverance. God has called us all to do amazing things and we are all faced with unique challenges as we journey to carry out our purpose. Be sure to check out more from Whitney at her website He Is My Crutch .