Diamond excels even without arms
By: Dr. Garth A. Rose
Few people understand what it’s like to live with a serious physical handicap. However, Sunrise resident, Diamond Excell, lives with a major handicap every day of her life. She was born to Jamaican-American parents, Derrick and Dalia Excell in Miami in 1990, without both of her arms.
Despite this serious handicap, Diamond has gone through life as a normal person attending Miami Carol City Senior High School graduating in 2008, and later attending Florida A&M University graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Although subject to the stares and surprise of people when she is in public, Diamond says she isn’t deterred or even feels self-conscious, “I am accustomed to being referred to as ‘the girl with no arms’ or ‘look Diamond has no arms’ and I am okay with that as long as people aren’t rude. I don’t think of myself as an abnormal human.”
Although she as other medical issues like scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) and a deficiency in her right leg, she has never dwelt on her circumstances, questioning, “Why?” “No, I really don’t care. My life is what it is and I persevere.”
Learning to use her feet to do what her arms would, Diamond leads a normal life, especially in her home, where she lives with her dad. “I do experience some difficulties when I am away from home, but still I am able to cope. I do a lot of outdoor activities and I particularly enjoy hanging out and having a good time with my friends.”
In her youth, she was a Karate expert, earning a brown belt, and played regular games like other kids. Today, she drives a Lexus 300 vehicle, one hour each way to and from her job as a customer service representative with American Express. Although she has to use her feet to steer and control the vehicle, she describe her drive, as “quite normal.” In fact, during her interview with National Weekly, she capably answered her phone and participated in the conversation without any problem as she drove.
Diamond’s immediate goal is to be a life coach. “I strongly believe in my ability to inspire and motivate people, especially young people, to overcome negative circumstances. I think it is very important for everyone to be able to live free in their own skin and not let anything, any handicap, any circumstance deter them.” She has embarked on her mission and is currently a life coach and motivational speaker to students from the first to fourth grade in public schools.
Describing herself as fashion conscious, Diamond also harbors ambition of being a fashion model. “However, this is not an immediate plan, as I want to focus on a career as a life coach before anything else.”
Although there’s significant technological advancement in prosthetic limbs, providing significant advantage to people without one or more limbs, Diamond isn’t interested in prosthetic arms. “I don’t want or need them,” she said. When she was 16, through a community fund raising effort she was fitted with prosthetic arms, but didn’t find them helpful. “They were too mechanical. I did much better using my feet. I cope quite well the way I was born. My God given strength has made me who I am today. When you’re born missing something God makes another sense stronger. My mind is much stronger, enabling me to adequately improvise with my feet. I am handicapped, but I don’t have to handicap myself.”