This photo of a little girl’s hug is capturing the Internet’s collective hearts

When Karlyn Pranke discovered in her 20th week of pregnancy that her daughter RE would be born without arms, Google became her resource for learning how her unborn baby would get by in the world. That’s how she found out about Jessica Cox, the world’s first armless pilot.

Since that moment, Karlyn wanted her daughter RE, short for Ruth Evelyn, to meet Cox. As she told ABC News, “…It’s been very inspirational to me that she has come as far as she has… and my daughter has always said, especially lately, ‘I want arms, I want arms.’” So, Karlyn reached out to Jessica on Facebook, and was thrilled when Jessica responded.

Finally, an opportunity arose for RE to meet Jessica Cox, who is also a third degree black belt and motivational speaker. “Right-Footed,” a documentary centering around how Cox has overcome all the challenges she’s faced to live a life as dynamic as full as anyone with arms, premiered on July 24th. Karlyn and RE, who is now 3 years old, drove six hours to attend and meet the inspirational figure.

During that meeting, a photo was snapped of the pair hugging—something Cox says she is frequently asked about when speaking. “The top question I get as a speaker is, ‘How do you hug?’” she told ABC News. She and RE clearly show that despite what people might assume, a beautiful embrace doesn’t require anything but love.

The pair’s meeting, which was very heartwarming, also included some excitement: Cox brought the toddler to see the airplane she flies. From the moment they met, Cox explains, it was RE’s primary request.

RE, whose mother says she has adapted to her circumstance well and can carry items and play on an iPad, was inspired by the meeting. Karlyn notes that RE refers to Cox, saying, “She’s just like me.”

Cox, who also cycles, skydives, and swims, has kept in touch Karlyn and RE, providing support for the pair. For Cox, sharing her story with parents and children like herself is a way of giving back and showing them that everyone can overcome the obstacle of being born without arms.

For the rest of us, the friendship between such a remarkable woman and brave little girl will keep warming our hearts all week.

(Image via Karlyn Pranke’s Facebook)


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