Rumeysa Gelgi Shares Her Thoughts About Her Disability, Challenges and Dreams
Rumeysa: My over 7ft height (215.1 cm ) is caused by Weaver Syndrome, a very rare overgrowth syndrome. So I was born as a big baby (59 cm / 5,9 kg) and I have always been quite tall compared to other children at my age.
RehaDesign: I read on your website that you have never been to school in person, but completed high school education via home schooling. Did your parents educate you?
Rumeysa: I never attended school in person due to the physical challenges I have, but completed both elementary and high school via homeschooling. I was enrolled in a school and my teachers came to my house every weekday to teach me, in a way similar to private lessons.
RehaDesign: I also read that you are studying web development. Are you finished with your studies? Are you working?
Rumeysa: I chose Web Development as my profession since it seemed like the best option for me and is what I am passionate about. I studied online and finished my studies few months ago. Now I am working as a Front-End Developer.
RehaDesign: Are other people in your family tall?
Rumeysa: No, my family members are average in height and very healthy. Weaver Syndrome is a random genetic mutation that occurs by an unknown reason. So no one in my family has it except me. It is also extremely rare and I am the 1st case diagnosed in Turkey and 27th case diagnosed worldwide.
RehaDesign: Are you living with your family?
Rumeysa: I am living with my parents right now.
RehaDesign: The tallest living man is also in Turkey. Have you met? Are you friends?
Rumeysa: No, we have never met. Even though we are from the same country, we are from totally different regions of Turkey and our diagnoses are not similar at all as well.
RehaDesign: What is your social life like?
Rumeysa: I have an active social life as much as my physical condition allows me to. Obviously COVID hit everyone's lives for past 2 years, and now I almost returned to my normal routine. I am seeing my friends, going out for a meal and joining events while following safety guidelines.
RehaDesign: I read that you like sightseeing. Where have you been? Where do you dream of going?
Rumeysa: I visited so many places in Turkey. However, because of the amount of special adjustments and accommodations I need due to my height and physical condition, I have never been able to go abroad. Having a trip to another country is one of my biggest dreams, and I would like to visit as many destinations as I can but USA would be my first choice I think.
RehaDesign: What are your biggest challenges in life?
Rumeysa: The biggest challenge I have in life is the mobility limitations that my syndrome has brought me without a doubt. I am a wheelchair user and need my custom walker to stand up and walk for short distances.
RehaDesign: What are some of your goals and dreams?
Rumeysa: My biggest goal in life is to build an independent, happy, healthy and successful future for myself, and I am already working on it.
RehaDesign: What makes you smile?
Rumeysa: Almost everything :) I am one of those people who can find happiness even in the smallest things, such as a lovely gesture, a beautiful sunset or cuddles with my cat.
RehaDesign: How did you feel when you were designated the world's tallest woman by the Guiness Book of World Records?
Rumeysa: I am recognized as “the tallest living female teenager” in 2014 and “the tallest living woman” in 2021 officially by Guinness World Records. I do not think anything made me prouder than receiving these two titles. Being the tallest teenager was a huge step but being the tallest woman definitely was mind blowing. I feel more motivated than ever before. What I have experienced in last 3 months still feels surreal and I am so grateful for that.
RehaDesign: As you know, RehaDesign is located in Lithuania. What do you think about when you hear the name Lithuania?
Rumeysa: As far as I know, Lithuania is famous for its ancient history, museums and art galleries. Whenever I hear the name Lithuania, the stunning architecture and Old Town of Vilnius are the first things that pop up in my mind. I would love to be able to visit and see all the interesting (and accessible) places in Lithuania and try Lithuanian food one day.
RehaDesign: Would you like to send a New Year's Greeting to Lithuanian people in general and Lithuanian wheelchair users?
Rumeysa: I wish a very Happy New Year and a magical holiday season to all Lithuanian people, and my fellow wheelchair users.
RehaDesign: Many Lithuanians are enthusiastic about basketball. As the world's tallest woman, are you interested in any sports such as basketball or volleyball?
Rumeysa: Again because of my physical condition, I am not able to play a sport that requires agility. Anyway I love swimming, it is my favorite sport and helps me to both improve muscle strength and reduce stress.
RehaDesign: When traveling to Turkey, many Lithuanians would go to Istanbul for culture or Antalya for the sea. Can you recommend any other interesting travel destinations in Turkey?
Rumeysa: Sure! Actually the city I am from and still living, Safranbolu, is a great place for cultural or vacation trips. Safranbolu is located in the Western Black Sea Coast of Turkey, and famous for its historical houses and delicious Turkish delights, and in the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are plenty of tourist attractions and amazing foods. You might want to do an Internet research before booking your trip, and if you decide to visit here, you all will be welcomed. If you are interested in more destinations, Cappadocia (amazing rock formations, caves and hot air balloon trips with a fairytale scenery), Cesme and Bodrum (similar weather with Antalya - the best for sun & sea vacations) are other lovely cities you might want to visit as well.
RehaDesign: What about accessible travel destinations for wheelchair users?
Rumeysa: “Accessibility” is such an important topic for us wheelchair users since non-accessible places limit us not only in traveling but our everyday lives. I can not go to a cafe, a restaurant or a store that is not wheelchair accessible and have the experience that my friends or family has. In terms of travel destinations, many nature attractions and old towns are not accessible since there are hills, steps or potholes. I also have to note that Cappadocia is not an accessible destination, so I could never go there and enjoy the view which is upsetting. But some districts of large cities in Turkey such as Istanbul and Ankara are quite accessible and offer loads of fun activities. Plus there are many wheelchair accessible resorts in the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts, so Antalya, Izmir or Kusadasi might be a good choice, too.