“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I am a fighter.

I might not look like a heavyweight champion, given my petite stature and frame. But my fight is much more than a test of physical strength.

When my body was debilitated from open-heart surgery at the age of twelve, I had to draw on other resources. Mental tenacity proved a more powerful weapon than corporeal force. A community of supporters — from the nurse stroking my hair on the operating table, to the neighbors who sent me a lifetime's supply of lollipop trees, to the physical therapist who pushed me to walk the stairs one more time — gave me energy when I almost gave up. The best doctors and hospitals in the country were on my side, coaching and training me. And unwavering faith in God gave me hope when the prognosis was bleak.

It took me twelve grueling months to battle my way back to health, but in the end, I won. Like any fighter, the team in my corner gave me the conviction that nothing is insurmountable. Now, I am dedicated to giving others the same gift. I will be there for my friends and family through hardships; I will build communities that protect and love each other; I will influence organizations that improve people's lives; I will ensure government policies give every person the protection and support needed to overcome any challenge.

I will fight for a world where each and every person has the chance to finish their fight, arms raised in triumph.

— Grace Hou