In many ways, she was born to be fabulous – a pint-sized precocious five-year-old, who won’t let something like leg braces stop her story of survival. Today, her braces are pink, as she takes her scooter down a sun-splashed street, a miracle on the move.
“Her chances of survival were really 50-50,” said the first grader’s mother Micah Leggitt in an interview Tuesday. “But all of her medical care has been for free, which is why we’re trying to give back.”
Young Reece Leggitt was born with a condition known as arthrogryposis, a birth defect where joints are locked or dislocated. Baby pictures show her small feet and legs that appear to be twisted, bending at 90 degree angles. But now, she stands tall.
Doctors with the Shriners Hospital of Philadelphia have performed four surgeries, with another procedure already booked for a few years down the road. The price tag? Continuing care, free of charge.
The Leggitt Family is now set to launch a fundraiser Monday that has enjoyed the support of Washington Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins, a golf outing known as the 4th annual Golf Fore Reece event in Leesburg.
“We are doing this through the Raise Your Glass Foundation, which helps the Shriners and makes it possible for kids to live full, wonderful lives like Reece has,” Leggitt said. “Kirk Cousins donated a jersey last year, we’re hoping he does it again.”
Reece’s 10-year-old brother Fisher carries her when she needs help stepping down from the kitchen onto the backyard deck. But she strives for independence, pushing herself on a three-wheeled plastic scooter down her neighborhood street with pride.
“Beep! Beep!” she said as she ventured out of the driveway. “I can go without touching the ground,” Reece added, pushing herself and then gliding for a foot or two.
According to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, another leading care center for children with arthrogryposis, about 1 in 3,000 babies are born with the condition each year. In extreme cases, nearly every joint can be fused or twisted, with afflicted infants needing life-long care.
Most children with arthrogryposis have no change to their cognitive or language skills, but may need help when it comes to the most elementary of tasks – from walking up stairs to using the bathroom on their own.
“We’re hoping Reece will reach a point where she won’t need her braces,” Leggitt said. “The condition doesn’t get worse over time, so we’ll be taking Reece to surgeries maybe for years so she gradually can become free from this.”
Since 2014, supporters of Reece’s family have sent $85,000 to charity, according to the Raise Your Glass Foundation. Photos of past events also show Redskins great Mark Moseley as a master of ceremonies, as dozens took to the fairways and greens of the River Creek Club.
As she takes one step at a time, family members take pride in how far their daughter has come. They hope the kindness Reece has seen in her short life can be repaid, as their gratitude remains priceless.
“Sometimes I don’t even think Reece knows she’s different,” Leggitt said. “I am so proud of her, the doctors, and how far they have allowed her to come, and she never looks back.”
To join the Monday, July 24 fundraiser, click here.