Chernobyl Child is Determined to Live ‘Independently’

A child of Chernobyl born with only one limb has experienced negativity – and even bullying – throughout his life, but remains determined not to be held back.

Tim Mason, born severely disabled to a mother affected by the world’s worst nuclear disaster, shares his incredible story of determination and strength, eager to show the world that nothing holds him back.

A child of Chernobyl born with only one limb has experienced negativity – and even bullying – throughout his life, but remains determined not to be held back.

Tim Mason, 25, wants people to see how he is able to lead a fully independent life, despite being born with only half a body.

In the years after his birth, Tim was told by doctors that his disability was due to his biological mother having suffered radiation poisoning following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986.

Born in Moscow, Russia with no legs and only one arm, Tim spent the first few years of his life in an orphanage where they believed it was unlikely he would ever get adopted.

But at three years old, Tim was noticed by Virginia Mason, a woman from the USA who read about his story and was taken with the young boy. She travelled all the way to Moscow to visit him, where she was told by doctors that he would have little to no quality of life.

Despite this, Virginia knew she wanted to be his mum as soon as she saw him and adopted him, taking him back to America where he has lived ever since.

22 years later, living in Hartford, Connecticut, Tim wants to show others that his disability doesn’t hold him back.

Now working as a student success team member at the Napa Valley Wine Academy, Tim said: “My independence is the thing I’m most grateful for. People don’t realise that I’m not just sitting in my room as a triple amputee.

“I love exercise and it keeps me healthy both physically and mentally.

“I wake up every day and fight on.”

With only the use of one arm, Tim was originally given prosthetics and used a walker and crutch to move around. However, he soon realised they weren’t right for him.

“I really didn’t like them, they weren’t me,” he said. “I wanted to be myself without them.”

Eventually, he figured out his own way of moving around that felt more comfortable for him and ditched the walking aids with the support of Virginia.

However, the man now in his mid-twenties admitted that despite living an independent life and enjoying a number of hobbies, including exercising, dancing and dog walking, forming relationships has always been something he has struggled with.

When Tim first arrived in America with his new family, he began speaking English immediately and attended elementary school, where he “skyrocketed” and had no issues making friends.

It was only when he reached his teen years that this changed. He recalled: “Growing up was like a rollercoaster.”

“Middle and high school is when I started to notice the impacts my disabilities have on making friends.

“I would get asked ‘who would even date you?'”

But despite these challenges, Tim has gone from strength to strength and is now surrounded by loving friends and family. He is determined to ignore any negativity thrown his way.

He said: “There is a lot of doubt in what I can do, it can be discouraging. But I am here and making it through and I have seen so many positive comments and it means the world to me.”

“I really strive to prove people wrong so a lot of my hobbies have come from that.”

Tim avidly works out, taking to the treadmill for 30 minutes and weightlifting during his routine, and swears by the power of exercise to improve his movement and his overall wellbeing.

He said: “People think that disabled people cannot exercise, but we can all do it. Exercising is an amazing hobby, I lost 40 pounds in 2021.”

He also admitted that despite not letting his disability hold him back, Tim has noticed the impact his condition has on dating.

“Dating is hard in this generation, people see disabilities on your online profiles and base you off that,” he said.

“They don’t see the powerful person I see.”

However, this determined young man continues to strive to show others that his disability isn’t life-limiting.

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