LITTLE ROCK – University of Arkansas sophomore cheerleader Patience Beard was recognized on Tuesday as one of Arkansas Life’s 2013 Arkansans of the Year. Beard was formally honored at a luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock along with seven other recipients of the prestigious honor.
Beard is among the inaugural class of Arkansans of the Year as selected by the Arkansas Life editorial team. Recipients were selected based on "their tireless commitment to making our state a better place to live." All the 2013 winners will be featured in the December issue of Arkansas Life.
Since arriving at Arkansas in the fall of 2012, Beard has garnered worldwide attention for her inspiring story. Beard was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), Beard underwent an amputation of her left leg below the knee before she was even one year old. She was fitted for her first prosthetic leg shortly thereafter and has never let her early adversity affect the pursuit of her dreams.
"Patience Beard continues to be source of inspiration to many around our state and throughout the country," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. "Her determination and positive attitude in the face of adversity has not only empowered her to become a collegiate cheerleader, but her story has encouraged others to pursue their goals and dreams. Patience is a tremendous representative of the Razorback program, our university and our state. Congratulations to Patience on this wonderful recognition as an Arkansan of the Year."
Beard began participation in gymnastics at the age of four and became a cheerleader in the seventh grade. She fell in love with the University of Arkansas when her high school squad came to Fayetteville for a cheerleading camp. The Texarkana, Texas, native decided to try out for the Razorback cheerleading squad while still a senior in high school. After submitting a tryout video application, Beard was chosen to take part in an on-campus tryout in the spring of 2012. After a rigorous three-day tryout, Beard was selected to the squad.
Beard is in her second year on the Razorback cheerleading squad. During her time at Arkansas, her story has been featured by numerous national, regional and local media outlets including Inside Edition and the CBS Sports Network. She has been known as the "Girl with the Zebra Leg," after sporting a prosthetic with zebra stripes. Beard recently received a new Razorback themed prosthetic that she now wears when cheering on the Hogs. The leg
In 2012, Beard was a nominee for the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award which goes annually to the most inspiring figure in college football. She was also recognized at the University of Arkansas’ 2013 Red Tie Salute to Excellence Dinner with the Razorback Spirit Award for her positive influence on the athletic program.
Beard is a communications major and has visited with various individuals and groups about her life’s journey. She has been a mentor to children who also have prosthesis all around the country, including some who have traveled to Arkansas simply to meet her. Beard plans on continuing her positive influence as a full time motivational speaker following graduation.