MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) – 16-year-old Sasha Duval is your typical teenager. She loves being around her friends, art, and soccer. One of her biggest goals in life is to play, and she’s taking the steps to get there.
Sasha was born with arthrogryposis. It’s a rare condition where the joints in her body contract and often get stuck in one condition. Her condition keeps her in a wheelchair most of the time, but that doesn’t keep her from moving.
“I like being in my power chair, rolling around,” Sasha said.
She zips up and down the driveway every day before school. She’s a freshman at Marion High School and she’s ready to get out of the chair and start walking the halls. It’s Sasha’s dedication and her parent’s support that will get here there.
"We heard about her when she was 11 and a half, and we just knew she was going to be our daughter," Sasha’s mom Sherrie Duval said. “When I first met her in Ukraine one the things she told me was ‘I want to walk”
The Duvals adopted Sasha and ever since then they made it their mission to help her meet her goal.
“When she came home her knees were contracted with one almost underneath her. Her feet were turned under, and she’s contracted it in her arms, her elbows, and has no shoulder muscles. She has a lot of muscles missing,” Duval said.
They took Sasha to a doctor who said she was too far along in her condition to walk, but eventually they found an expert in Philadelphia who could get her there. Sasha would then go through many medical procedures.
“She’s had a her feet straightened, she’s had her legs cut and turned, she’s had her hips released, she’s had metal screws and things put in taken out,” Duval said. “We asked her before we did this, we said ‘this looks really hard, are you sure you want to do this?’ and this is what we heard from Sasha ‘I want to walk, I want to play soccer.”
After the procedures, Sasha spent 11 weeks at the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She went there intense training.
“I was doing five times, therapy a day,” Sasha said. “I was looking forward to it, and a little nervous at the same time.”
All of the hard work paid off and Sasha was able to take her first steps, she now can walk 550 feet at a time, and her parents couldn’t be more proud.
“I cried, I can’t I cried I posted all kinds of photos on Facebook,” Duval said.
“They were really happy you know,” Sasha said. “They took a video of me, and started bragging over me.”
Doctors believe Sasha will be able to walk around the house independently one day, but she has to continue her therapy. Grant Wood AEA will also help her with therapy at school, so she can walk the halls.
“I think I like it, I really like it. For someone who’s never walked before, I’m excited,” Duval said.