Reporting Aristea Brady
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You’ve likely had an experience where someone told you that you can’t, and it added inspiration.
Lexi Dietz has been inspired for the last eight years, and thank goodness she has.
Her “to-do” list looks about as you’d expect for an 8-year-old — things like play with her iPad, read, and color.
But it’s how Lexi goes about her to-do list that may make you look twice.
She does it all with her feet, turning the ordinary into extraordinary.
And if turning a page with your big toe isn’t challenging enough, then how about holding a paint brush?
Lexi has no use of her arms, but that doesn’t stop her.
And when people tell her she can’t do it, she responds with, “Oh yes, I can.”
“She can feel, but she has no physical movement, she can swing from the shoulders, but that’s it,” said mother Jamie Dietz.
Lexi was born with a rare condition of stiff joints and weak muscles, called arthrogryposis.
“For Lexi, she has very, very severe involvement with her arms, so severe that she has to use her feet,” said Dr. Ann Van Heest, Lexi’s orthopedic surgeon at Gillette Children’s Hospital.
Van Heest says the condition develops when babies’ joints don’t form correctly while in utero.
“In order for that joint to develop, it has to move in utero, and if there’s no movement, there’s no joint development,” she said.
For many children, learning to walk is out of the question. As Lexi’s mom explains, not for their daughter.
“We had gone for a check-up, and she said, ‘I wanna walk,’ and he said, ‘I just don’t think there’s any way you could do that,’ and she said, ‘Well, I will,’” Jamie explained.
Within a year, at age 5, Lexi was walking.
“He just looked at her and said, ‘You are extraordinary, there’s no way you should be able to do this,’” Jamie said. “She’s very determined, and whatever she wants to do, she will figure out a way.”
Take eating for example. Without ever asking for a helping hand, Lexi props against a wall to sit down.
Then using her big toe to hold the spoon, she bends down to eat.
Perhaps her favorite activity, and the one she’s most proud of is one that doesn’t require her hands or feet at all — singing.
The lyrics she sings speak of having “no limitations.” They’re words she lives by, too.
A limitless outlook, an infectious personality, and a determination that her parents say, rivals most adults.
Lexi’s way of overcoming obstacles may be something you have to see to believe, and believing is what she makes you do.
“Just her personality is what gets me through it, because God replaced what he took with something that’s much more important,” Jamie said.
You may have seen a commercial for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare featuring Lexi.
She’s part of their “Cure Pity” campaign. The hospital’s hope is to change the way the world sees these kids.
You can go online and sign a pledge to reject pity and give children with disabilities a better chance. Click here for more.