SPECIAL REPORT: High school senior inspires others and continues overcoming obstacles

High school senior inspires others and continues overcoming obstacles. // WSBT 22 Photo

She has overcome overwhelming obstacles, and this brave and strong athlete continues to come out on top.

Rose Veldman is a senior on the Varisity Golf team at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend.

She says she's not a role model but hopes sharing her story will inspire others that anything is possible.

The Saint Joseph High School Girls Varsity Golf team is on par to set some serious school records.

“We've had the best season in the history of this school," said John Fisher. "We won the NIC championship which is the northern conference here at South Bend Country Club."

There have been a lot of firsts for this team -- first undefeated season and first time in history to make it to the girls’ state golf championship.

"Wow, you’re waking up and you're in heaven,” said Rose.

One of the captains, Rose Veldman, helped lead the team to their winning record.

In 2009 the Veldman family took a trip to Haiti. They made an unplanned stop to an orphanage in a small town outside Port Au Prince.

"There's no food anywhere some days in the orphanage," said Rose. "You would go days without eating."

That chance encounter is where they met 9-year-old Rose.

"I knew it was love at first touch because I fell in love with her," said Anita Veldman. “Then when we had to leave and then she started crying and I started crying, and it was just a mess."

"The building started shaking while we were jumping rope and you could see stones popping out," said Rose. "The ground started breaking out from underneath our feet."

A year later, Haiti was struck by a magnitude-seven earthquake, leaving death and destruction throughout the country.

"It was so scary, the scariest moment in my life,” said Rose. “I thought we are all going to die.”

A wall in the orphanage collapsed on Rose's legs, trapping her. Her music teacher had also been trapped.

“We started singing to help us keep our minds off things,” said Rose. "’Jesus oh Jesus what do I do so I can be saved’?"

That still brings tears.

Rose's teacher died trapped under the rubble.

Desperate to survive and now all alone, Rose sang and prayed through the night.

"I was wondering if I was going to make it to the next day, because I thought, ‘There's no way I'm going to survive this,’” said Rose.

She was rescued but to save her life, both of her legs had to be amputated and without any anesthetic.

"We were panic-stricken trying to figure what happened, and the whole time her picture was on Tom's desk and we would talk about her every day," said Anita.

In the wake of the chaos, the Veldmans heard the news that Rose had lost her legs. Less than two months later, the Veldmans adopted Rose.

"Someone who came here with no formal education, didn't speak English, just lost her legs, had spent many years in an orphanage and she was coming with a lot of things against her," said Tom Veldman. "She has overcome all those things for those who know her and see what she's able to do. She has to set a positive example."

Rose doesn't know how to lose. She is a true fighter.

"It's really hard because when I'm swinging my driver I have to try and balance myself on one leg without the knee,” said Rose.

Rose has turned tragedy into triumph on and off the greens.

”There are some days where there's crying and frustration and tears but it all paid off,” said Rose.

It has paid off.

"That was an incredible feeling and incredible experience to go to state for the first time,” said Rose.

Rose has overcome obstacles most only see in movies.

"Even though you have a disability, that's what makes you special from everyone else,” said Rose.

Rose has an undeniable love of the game and for life according to her coach.

"Choking up, the girls love her and she's a strong inspiration," said Fisher. "Many years from now, when these girls are in the corporate world, I think when they have families they will have a strong bond among the team and with Rose."

Rose has never wallowed in her struggles; in fact, she says God answered her prayers.

"My dad and mom, they always believed in me and they always told me that there's nothing that I can't do,” said Rose. “I will always treasure that.”

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