Motivated motivator

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9-year-old won’t hold herself back

By Stevie Lowery

“Imani” is Swahili for “faith,” and it’s the perfect name for Imani Biggers.
It’s been said that faith doesn’t have or know an age, and that’s certainly true with Imani.
When asked what she thinks makes her special, the soft-spoken, bright-eyed 9-year-old sits quietly for a few moments, pondering her answer. Her eyes well up with tears as she softly replies.
“I have God in my heart,” she said. “He watches over me.”
Her sincere response is proof of just how special this little girl is.
Born on Aug. 27, 2003, Imani was six weeks premature, and was only three pounds and nine ounces when her mother, Vanessa, brought her home.
“I could hold her in one hand,” Vanessa said. “I was the proudest mom in the world. I wanted to bring my baby home. I didn’t care how little she was.”
While she was small, Imani was healthy and had few, if any, complications. However, when Imani was 3 years old Vanessa signed her up for preschool at Glasscock Elementary School, and during the preschool screening process it was discovered that Imani had severe hearing loss in her right ear. Imani was born with sensorineural hearing loss, which is often genetic. Hearing loss runs in Vanessa’s family.
At that young age, Imani had to wear hearing aids. Initially, it was difficult because Vanessa worried about her daughter being made fun of at school.
“I would try to comb her hair to try and hide them,” she said. “But it didn’t bother her. It was hard for me. I had to let it go. She wasn’t upset about it, so I didn’t need to be either.”
Imani hasn’t let her disability hold her back from doing anything. In fact, because of her hearing aids, her hearing is stronger than her classmates and friends. Sometimes, her hearing is too good. She actually had to ask the employees at a movie theatre to turn down the sound when she was watching the Justin Bieber “Never Say Never” movie. All the girls screaming at Bieber in the film were entirely too loud for her.
Recently, Imani was asked to be a Kosair Kid. The invitation came after Kosair Charities helped Vanessa purchase a new hearing aid for her after she lost one. At the time, Vanessa was temporarily out of work, and didn’t know how she would replace the expensive device. J.F. “Jerry” Evans, a deacon at their church, First Baptist Church in Lebanon, encouraged Vanessa to contact Kosair Charities and within weeks Imani had a new hearing aid. Since then, Imani has been interviewed for a television program (which hasn’t aired yet), and is featured on the Kosair Charities website.
All of the extra attention isn’t going to Imani’s head. She’s as humble as ever. But she’s definitely an above average kid. She was on the A/B honor roll at Glasscock Elementary, and she particularly loves science and math. Her favorite thing about school is recess, especially when she and her classmates get to play dodgeball.
“She’ll try anything,” Vanessa said.
In 2011, Imani was one of the first members of Marion County’s Girls on the Run chapter. Girls on the Run is a national program for girls 8 to 13 years old. The program combines training for a 3.1-mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts.
Vanessa said the Girls on the Run program has helped build Imani’s confidence.
Imani said it’s helped her make more friends.
“I get to run … And, I get to learn about not bullying people, and all that stuff,” she said.
Aside from running, Imani loves to jump on trampolines, and she loves to sleep late. Something her mom is grateful for, especially on the weekends.
When Imani grows up, she said she wants to be a nurse, like her grandmother.
“I want to help the elderly,” she said.
Imani’s teacher, Jessica Veatch, said Imani’s work ethic and attitude will help her go far in life.
“Imani is a delight to have in my classroom,” Veatch said. “I love seeing her smile each day, and she is a very hard worker that puts a ton of effort into anything that I ask her to do.”
Principal Lee Ann Divine said Imani is like a ray of sunshine at Glasscock Elementary.
“She is one of those students that can give you a smile and brighten your entire day,” she said. “She does not let anything get her down and her positive attitude is contagious.”
But, Divine is not only Imani’s school principal, she’s also been Imani’s running buddy with the Girls on the Run program. Divine said Imani has endless energy and is an excellent motivator.
“Imani can run circles around me,” Divine said. “She has more energy than anyone I know.”
During the Marion County Country Ham Days Pokey Pig 5K, Imani motivated Divine to keep going.
“She just kept saying, ‘Come on Mrs. Divine. You can do it,’ because there was no way I could keep up,” Divine said. “I was able to finish with her, but only because she kept slowing down for me. She is an awesome motivator. I know whatever this young lady chooses to do with her life, she will be successful. I am so lucky to have her as my ‘buddy.’”