Can you believe we've been watching “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” shows since 2002? We’ve seen several Colorado contestants come and go over the years and now Sarah Herron, one of the Coloradans who was a fan favorite, is now back living in Colorado and excited to share a new chapter in her life.
When Sarah looks back on her Bachelor experience in 2013, she has fond memories.
“I get asked all the time, ‘would I recommend it to my little sister when she’s old enough?’ And I say ‘yes!’ It was such a positive experience for me,” said Sarah.
Sarah grew up watching the show and remembers seeing the first Colorado couple, Trista and Ryan, and thinking if Trista could do it so could she. It was a dream of hers that came true in season 17.
Remember The Bachelor, Sean Lowe? You may also remember that Sean didn’t pick Sarah. Her heart was broken and she went home in tears.
“I really think in hindsight I was signing up for acceptance and approval. What I came to discover through my experience on the show was that before anyone else could love me, I needed to love myself first,” she said.
Growing up, Sarah struggled with self-image. She felt different. She was born with amniotic band syndrome, which occurs when the fetus becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development.
In Sarah’s case, she was born missing part of her arm, which brought on some insecurities at a young age. She didn’t want to try things like sports.
“I thought if I played soccer I’d look silly. If I went skiing I had have to push my sleeve up my arm or wear a glove on my arm, and I’d look foolish,” she said. “The last thing you want is to be looked at when you are trying to find your identity. You just want to be the girl with good grades or artistic. You don't want to be known as the girl with one arm."
The day Sarah first appeared on The Bachelor, her phone started ringing and her message box was full. All the messages were from girls who felt for the first time, they had someone they could relate to on television.
“They were seeing this completely confident, empowered person, and I didn’t necessarily feel that on the inside. So, I struggled for a couple of years with ‘how am I supposed to be a mentor when I don’t have that confidence they are seeing?’” she said.
Being on The Bachelor was a turning point for Sarah, who said it set her on a journey to find love within herself.
“What I came to discover through my experience on the show was that before anyone else could love me, I needed to love myself first,” she said.
Sarah, who had been living in Los Angeles, would come home and started pushing herself on the slopes of Colorado. Each time she felt stronger and more confident, which led to an epiphany: Why not give that same feeling to other women?
Sarah decided to start her own non-profit and recruited other women who have physical differences to come to Colorado and do things they never dreamed of doing.
They gathered at a ski resort for four days, strapped on ski boots and hit the slopes, spending time together and building a bond for life. There were lots of tears and candid conversations about things like posting photos on social media, dating, walking into a bar with confidence.
“Many of them shared, I’ve never had a boyfriend or I’ve struggled with dating, because that was something I could totally relate to,” she sad. “I knew that fear of dating in a world where we’re expected to be perfect, and when you’re not ‘perfect,’ going into a bar can be really hard.”
Ironically, Sarah was starting SheLift about the same time she was appearing on “Bachelor in Paradise” and met Chad. And it wasn’t going well, at all.
"I was like, ‘how in the world can I have this fight with someone who is making fun of me for having one arm?’ And here I am starting this non-profit. It was pretty great, not enjoyable but pretty great timing," she said.
The start of SheLift made it all worthwhile to Sarah and now she is back in Colorado for good, planning her second retreat. And her friend, Trista Sutter, is on one of her board members.
"I never thought I’d be the one learning to rock climb and stand up paddle board. I never saw that in my future and to know that I'm doing that so that other girls can do that, is really exciting," Sarah said.
And of course, I couldn’t finish the interview without asking: Have you found love now? Sarah gets a big smile on her face and says very coyly “No comment, no comment. I'm having fun being back here in Colorado and meeting people. I'm having a great time."