By Nathalie Bonney
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Nathan Pellow-Jarman
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Rafaela Kuznec
Editor: Ethan Edwards
Her parents set off the bomb in protest because they couldn’t be together; they’d had an affair and Vietnamese society wouldn't accept a baby born out of an illicit relationship. Haven was put into a shelter because her biological grandparents couldn’t afford to pay her medical bills. At 20-months-old, Haven was adopted by the Shepherd family from Carthage, Missouri. The family encouraged Haven to be as active as possible and she’s never felt ashamed of her stumps or prosthetics and says she is blessed to have the life she does. The year 2020 was meant to be one of the biggest of Haven Shepherd’s life. The 17-year-old para swimmer was set to qualify to compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. But thanks to COVID-19, Haven’s Paralympic dreams are on pause. Before the pandemic broke out Haven would train at the pool seven days a week, pulling double sessions on weekdays. The rest of her schedule was packed with schooling, CrossFit and ice baths. Now Haven, in Carthage Missouri, uses her relative’s backyard pool to swim laps. The teenager remains focused on making the Games 2021 and beyond that has hopes of making it in the modelling industry – she’s already appeared in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger adaptive wear and swimwear brand Jolyn.