Jessica Cox, 32, was born armless. But the Arizona woman never let her disability limit or dissuade her in any way — she is the first armless black belt in the American Tae Kwon Do Association.
She can surf, scuba dive, swim, drive a car without modifications, and play the piano — despite not having arms. In 2008, she earned a Guinness World Record and became the world’s first licensed armless pilot. It took her “three years, three different airplanes, three instructors, and 80 hours of flying in three states” to become the first woman to fly a plane with her feet.
Jessica, who ditched prosthetics at 14 and has been using her feet as most of us use our hands, says:
“Naturally people saw me not having arms as a limiting factor — but I was there to prove them wrong. At three years old I was involved in gymnastics, at six I started tap dancing lessons, I did modeling, I swam at five, 10-years-old I was doing Tae Kwon Do, I did every activity you could imagine. There’s nothing that can substitute the tactile ability of flesh and bone — and my feet have that ability.
“I faced some challenges when it came to learning how to get dressed, but it was a trial and error process. We started off mounting hooks on the walls and I would hang my clothes on the hooks and wiggle my way into them.
“The hooks would sometimes create holes in my clothes and it was hard to have the hook in public restrooms where I needed to get dressed. So I have a new hook that has a suction on it and it has been with me since I was 18-years-old.That was one of my biggest challenges, but I’m very independent, the only thing I really need help with is doing my hair.”
“Patrick was a fourth-degree black belt and he was teaching a class with my friend, and we hit it off right away. We got to know each other on an instructor-student basis and met outside of school at social gatherings. He moved on to a different Tae Kwon Do school eventually and he asked me out and the rest was history.”
— Passion Connect (@ipassionconnect) April 26, 2017
Jessica, who flies a 1945 Ercoupe plane, is also a motivational speaker and encourages people to overcome their obstacles.
“Recently I met a little girl who never met someone without arms. I just told her that she’s going to be okay and I gave her confidence, that’s what I’m really passionate about. I love reaching out to kids and letting them know that they can do anything.
“If we did have a child without arms, we wouldn’t hesitate — I lived my life just fine without arms. We have many years to spend together to start a family and to continue to travel the world. We want to bring speaking to other countries and change attitudes about disability.”