SYSK: Wendy Stoeker - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Wendy Stoeker

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by Danielle Wagner

WATERLOO (KWWL) Driving. Getting a pop. Writing. Dialing a phone. All things Wendy Stoeker does with her feet. Stoeker was born without arms, no one is sure why.

"I don't care why. I'm just who I am," said Wendy Stoeker.

At first, doctors weren't sure what she'd be able to do. But her feet quickly became her hands.

"My folks took me home and immediately I was holding my rattle with my toes. Picking up my bottle with my feet, drinking," said Stoeker.

She said she was given flexibility and long toes for a reason.

"I'm a very unique individual because I have no arms, but I do everything. I'm totally independent. I don't think of myself as disabled in anyway shape or form so when people come to me, I forget," she said.

She drinks a pop, opens doors and drives a car with no adaptations. But that's not all.

"I live by myself so the cooking, the laundry, the house work. I take my garbage out to the corner. I have two belts, I put it under my chin and take it down and leave it there," said Stoeker.

She said there are only three things she can't do herself.

"I can't put the backs on earrings so I wear clip on or hoops. I can't carry an umbrella so I get wet often, but God made me drip dry so that's okay, and I can but I don't go through a buffet line by myself. I can, stand on one foot and scoop with the other, but people wouldn't appreciate that so I don't," she said.

Stoeker finds humor in everything. She attributes that attitude to her success in life.

"Basically in life it's all about attitude and I've learned everyday you have a choice about your attitude and I've learned what happens to me is only 10 percent of my life. My attitude towards the day is 90 percent, and I think that's what makes me successful," said Stoeker.

She's a successful occupational therapist at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. Stoeker knew at age seven this is what she wanted to do. As a child, she had 12 years of outpatient occupational therapy.

"But I think I bring something added to my profession because I was born with no arms, and although I don't think of myself as disabled, it's a real nice way for other patients to relate to me a quicker way," said Wendy Stoeker.

Like herself, Stoeker helps those patients regain their independence.

"I have empathy because I know how hard it is to be independent with any kind of disability. It's worth working for," she said.

She may not have any arms, but she has no limits.

Stoeker went to school at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. She was an all-American diver and dove for two years at the University of Florida. After living in Maryland, she moved back to Iowa to be closer to her mom. For more information on Wendy, you can visit her web site.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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