Elizabeth Ann Velásquez, known as Lizzie Velásquez (Austin, Texas, 13 March 1989) is an American woman whose extremely rare medical condition of progeria has led her to become an author and motivational speaker. She was raised by her parents Rita and Guadalupe as the eldest of their three children. She is from Austin, Texas.
Lizzie & Mother Rita Velasquez
Father Guadalupe Velasquez, Lizzie & Brother
Velazquez has a condition that is so rare that only two other people are known to have it. She has zero percent body fat, and weighs only 61 pounds. Although not anorexic she is unable to gain weight and is required to eat every 15 minutes of her waking hours. Her daily energy intake of about 5000 kilocalories compares with the US average of 3770. She is blind in her right eye, and has limited vision in the other. Her condition is similar to many other conditions, especially progeria.
Mother Rita Velasquez & Father Guadalupe Velasquez
Velasquez was born by emergency C-section weighing just less than three pounds – half of what was expected for the 36-week pregnancy. And ever since, she's been poked, prodded and stared out by dozens of doctors trying to diagnose and treat her mysterious condition.
Those struggles have been many. Velasquez is still bullied because of her gaunt look, but says her elementary school years were the worst.
"I felt like some sort of monster," she said, recalling her first day of kindergarten. "I never told anyone how bad I was being picked on because I was embarrassed. When I would take a bath at night, that's when I would cry."
Every September, Velasquez's dad, Lupe – a teacher at her school – would stand up in front of her class and say, "This is Lizzie. She's just like you guys, she just looks a little different," Velasquez said. "It was a huge help."
Now Velasquez is using her victory over bullying to inspire others. On top of a full course load, she's penned two books and delivered motivational speeches to young students across Texas. She also made an "It Gets Better" YouTube video with nearly 2.5 million views.
Lizzie & Brother
Lizzie & Sister Marina Velasquez
Picture of Lizzie aged two.
Regardless of what the studies find, Velasquez looks forward to living a long and normal life surrounded by supportive family and friends.