Thursday, March 23, 2017
SCOTTSDALE — Wearing a red dress, her long brown hair falling almost to her waist, Jen Bricker navigated the stage in a wheelchair Thursday before a packed ballroom of 850 people at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa.
Bricker, 29, was there to accept the HOPE (Head Start, Opportunity, Positive Future and Education) award at Florence Crittenton of Arizona’s 15th annual Teaming Up For Girls Luncheon.
Bricker’s unconventional life journey led her to the Marriott ballroom.
Born without legs, she was put up for adoption when she was only 3 months old. She doesn’t dwell on her past, though. With an upbeat attitude, she told the crowd about her life as an accomplished aerialist, acrobat and author.
Bricker was honored by the nonprofit Florence Crittenton, which put on the luncheon to commemorate its 120 years of service to at-risk girls and young women and its mission to “give every girl whose life we touch safety, hope and opportunity.”
“One of the most important things is realizing that you have value and realizing that you have significance in what you are passionate about,” Bricker said to the crowd. “It’s just what you are naturally good at and those things that they have within them, they are of equal value and they have it in them to change someone’s life and it’s beautiful. I feel like they can tap into that.”
Last year, the event featured kidnapping survivor and author Jaycee Lee Dugard as the keynote speaker, and Julie Johnston, a member of the 2015 women’s FIFA World Cup championship team and a 2016 Olympian, was the HOPE recipient.
Bricker gave a brief speech at this year’s luncheon after guests watched a short video describing her journey.
“I was really pleasantly surprised and blown away and really respect what everyone is doing here,” Bricker said. “It’s really important. It’s changing lives which is changing the world, so it’s pretty beautiful.”
Bricker, who also was born with her heart located on the right side of her chest, has performed on the Britney Spears World Tour and has been the headliner at The Palazzo Las Vegas hotel, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai.
“In the beginning of my career nobody wanted to hire me,” Bricker said….