By Roxy Photenhauer —
Nick Vujicic assumed he might live life alone. He has no legs and no arms.
“I definitely had doubts that I would ever get married, that I would ever meet anyone who would ever love me and spend the rest of their life with me because I’m Prince Charming — with a couple bits and pieces missing,” Nick says.
Today, the Australian-born Christian motivational speaker is happily married to his Cinderella.
“We have gotten a lot of interesting reactions from people while we were dating, holding hands and walking side by side,” says Nick, now 34. “People would come up and cry and say, ‘Now I believe in love again.’”
Kanae Miyahara is a Mexican-Japanese who saw the Australian evangelist at a small speaking engagement in Texas. Nick’s appearance on the stage makes a sensation. Sometimes, he is carried in. Sometimes, he scuffles along the ground and hops up steps to a table, upon which he stands. He has a mere stub for a foot only.
With a mixture of self-deprecating humor, optimistic Bible preaching and non-stop enthusiasm the born-again evangelist leads sinners to Christ and Christians to a better attitude.
As he spoke in 2010 at the iconic Adriatica Bell Tower in McKinney, Nick spotted the exotic beauty in the audience and felt his heart throb. Would she — could she — feel the same?
Through friends, he arranged to talk with her and, playing it cool, managed to exchange emails.
Kanae was disillusioned with her prior dating experiences.
“Because I have dated other guys, I always went for the physical and I got tired of that,” she says on YouTube. “When I met Nick I was looking for other things, I found all those things in him. I was like wow, he’s not just boyfriend material, he could be my husband.”
So when she met Nick, she wasn’t necessarily looking for physical attributes — at least not arms and legs.
“The moment I saw his smile and his eyes, I thought to myself, oh my gosh, he’s so handsome. He’s my Prince charming. He may not be perfect on the exterior but he’s a perfect match for me.”
Nick was born to Serbian immigrants in Australia with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. When the nurse showed Dušanka and Borislav Vujičić their baby, the couple went outside the hospital to vomit.
Eventually, they accepted Nick as he was. They brought him home and raised him to love God and never make excuses but to learn to do everything by himself, as much as possible. Hence, he went to school, played ball and made friends like everyone else.
“My parents always taught me we have a choice to either be angry for what we don’t have or to be grateful for what we do have,” he says. “The power of choice. I had to decide for myself, especially in the early years in school when a lot of kids would come up to me and tease me.
“The world is a hurting place. The world needs hope. The world needs love,” he says. “Without hope, we feel like, why are we here?”
Nick graduated from Griffith University at the age of 21 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a double major in accounting and financial planning.
In 2005, Vujicic founded Life Without Limbs, an international non-profit organization and ministry. In 2007, he founded the motivational speaking company Attitude is Altitude. He has preached for mega church pastor Greg Laurie and around the world to more than 4 million people. In 2008, he moved to California.
Nick doesn’t let anything hold him back. He swims, cooks, skydives and surfs.
The night he met Kanae was “electric,” Nick says. “When she stood by me it just felt right.”
Nick proposed on a yacht in Santa Barbara, California. He even put the ring on her finger — with his mouth. She wasn’t expecting it, and he began by kissing her hand. With great dexterity, he managed to slip on the gold band.
When she looked down, there was the ring.
Immediately, she burst into smiles and tears.
“Baby, I love you, would you marry me and spend the rest of your life with me?” he said.
They married Feb. 12, 2012. While Nick lacks limbs, he has other body parts necessary for making kids — the couple now have four of them.
“He’s got everything he needs,” Kanae says.
Because his birth condition is so rare, there was virtually no risk of his kids being born with the same syndrome.
“I believe we should change obstacles into opportunities,” he says. “There are a billion people going hungry today. In a year, a million people will commit suicide. There are 120 million slaves around the world. We’re all looking for something. We’re all looking for hope.”
Roxy Photenhauer studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.