Monday, December 16, 2019

30 Stories 30 Faces 30 Years: Frederick and Sabrina Seitz

We've all heard the expression – "Sometimes what you're looking for is already right in front of you." Little did I know that I would find my soulmate through CCA. 

I had always known who Freddie was, I would see him around at the CCA retreats but we never interacted. That was until, the dinner and dance in 2014. I will never forget when the slow song came on, Freddie walked up and put his hands out towards me. I smiled and nodded, accepting his invitation to dance. From that moment, our friendship began. Never did we imagine that 5 years later, we would have another first slow dance... as husband and wife. We are truly grateful for CCA for providing us the opportunity to meet others who were born like us, to form special bonds with families and for helping us find everlasting love.                                                 

-- Frederick and Sabrina Seitz, CCA Adults

CCA works hard to bring families, children, and individuals with facial differences together so no one ever has to feel alone. That said, we never could have imagined that two, wonderful people from two different countries, would fall in love and get married. This exceeds all of our expectations. We must be doing something very right. It is an honor to celebrate the love story that is Fred and Sabrina’s.

Fred and Sabrina have known each since 2005, the year Sabrina attended her first Annual Retreat. They would talk from time to time, but clearly it was not until 2014 that their friendship tranformed into something more.

Fred is originally from Poland, Ohio. He was born with born with Goldenhar syndrome (hemifacial microsomia), but does not let that define him. He recently moved to Bloomington, Indiana after accepting a position working with the United States government as a systems engineer. He enjoys video games and is a self described aviation enthusiast.

Sabrina, from Gatineau, Quebec, joined him in Bloomington, shortly after they were married in August 2019. She was born with Pfeiffer syndrome. Sabrina is working on getting her citizenship so she can begin working in the United States. For now, she volunteers working in education with kids from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. She enjoys going to the gym and other forms of self improvement, like writing and reading. Together, they enjoy spending time together with their cats, hiking nearby trails, and traveling, a hobby they embraced as many others do through CCA’s many Annual Family Retreats located in a different city each summer.

Being born with a facial difference has affected each of them differently. Sabrina says, she felt very alone and that CCA put an

end to that feeling soon after attending her first retreat, “I thought I was the only one who was born like this. I had never seen anyone else around me with a facial difference. I didn't find CCA until I was 16 years old and that's when I finally met others with Pfeiffer Syndrome. My 1st CCA retreat in 2005 opened a whole new world for me. It was the best feeling to meet others who looked like me and had been through the same things I have.” It has not been an easy road and has taken its emotional and mental toll. Still, Sabrina keeps her chin up saying, “Aside from the many surgeries and medical procedures, there have been social and emotional challenges as well. I have been judged by others, talked down to and discriminated against. On the other hand, being born like this inspires me to educate others about facial differences and to help spread the message that we should all be more kind and accepting of one another, regardless of how we look on the outside. Overtime, with the love, support and encouragement from my mom, I have learned to embrace my differences. I believe we are all unique in our own way.

In contrast to Sabrina’s many years before finding CCA, Fred began attending Annual Retreats from a very early age. He says, “I attended my first retreat when I was 3 years old. I was very

fortunate to grow up with the organization from the beginning as it has helped me form a deeper perspective than most kids during those formative years since I was exposed to a broad variety of kids who had craniofacial differences like I did. Meeting other kids

especially those with Goldenhar Syndrome at a very young age taught me that I wasn't alone and that there wasn't anything to fear.” He, too, felt the pain of bullying, but he always knew he had the support of his CCA family behind him during those dark times, “Of course, I had been through the experience of being bullied by other kids but thanks to my supportive parents and extended family, I didn't let the bullies bring me down because I was the reason they eventually changed their ways. Today as an adult, whenever I go out into the public and see people staring at me - I just smile & wave even if people give off "shocked" reactions. The way I see myself is simple - I am a person like everyone else, except that maybe I do look different. So what? I am a person with my own thoughts, personality, intelligence, life experiences, feelings, and dreams.” 

As you can see, being born with a facial difference affects the way they see and are in the world. Sabrina shares more on this, "It has certainly made me more anxious and cautious when meeting new people. To this day, I still get nervous and wonder "do they notice something different about me as I'm speaking to them? Will they think I'm incapable of doing certain things because of the way I look?". I am still a work in progress when it comes to my confidence and self-esteem. However - I have also seen how incredibly accepting some people can be. There have been certain situations where I felt very welcomed and treated equally like any other typical person - and this meant the world to me. I do feel that society is becoming more accepting as time goes on and it will keep on getting better the more we raise awareness for facial differences." 

While Fred has a different perspective with regard to communication barriers and how his facial difference has changed the way he looks at the world, "When I meet new people, I always make it a point to be bold and approach them just like anyone else would even though I always have to fight through the communication barrier because of my deafness. I always find a way to make something work no matter what. Because of my parents and how I grew up, I learned to never let anyone mistreat me or interfere with my life pursuits even if they're clueless/ignorant. I learned to be ruthless only when necessary in certain situations where there are barriers that shouldn't be there in the first place. Whenever I pursue a specific life goal, I always find a way to keep going no matter what. There will always be some good people out there who see me for who I am and treat me with the same respect as everyone else and support me in life pursuits. While our societal perceptions are improving as more and more people become aware of those with craniofacial differences, I still remind myself that we have some work to do because ignorance still exist in pockets of the today's society."

Sabrina and Fred are a beautiful couple with a special bond. With their collective life experiences, we are confident that they will be able to support one another through almost anything that may come their way. CCA is proud to have you both as members of our community. Thank you for sharing your stories to celebrate our milestone 30 years of service.

1 comment:

  1. I have known Freddie as a young man attending church in Campbell. I didn’t know the family at that tine, but saw such a spe Ian relationship his family had with him and how wonderful the people in the church treated him. When I heard his story I became one of his prayer warriors along with many others who knew when his surgeries were about to happen. It is no surprise he has become such a confident, smart and special human being when you see the special family he was born into. May God bless these two with many beautiful and healthy years!


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