Hometown Hero Inspires With Each Step She Takes

By Melanie Chapman | mchapman@kolr10.com

Published 08/20 2014 08:58PM

Updated 08/20 2014 09:22PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A young girl is an inspiration to all struggling with physical challenges as she goes from a wheelchair to walking.

It’s something many of us don't even think about, but for 9-year-old Sarah Hawkins every step she takes considered a miracle.

“Physically it was one problem after another and they were getting worse with everyone of them,” says Sarah’s father, Doug Hawkins. “Emotionally I think she felt left behind. It was a lot harder for her to get around a lot harder for her to keep up with kids her own age.

Sarah has battled Spina Bifida, which eventually forced her to be wheelchair bound.

“My feet were like turned in,” she says.

Sarah suffered what is commonly known as club foot; her feet turned in and it made walking nearly impossible and gave her painful blisters.

Being confined to a wheelchair made life difficult for Sarah, who had to miss out on so much.

“Play in the playground, walk around free,” she says. “Pretty much a miserable life.

But Sarah’s life changed when she met pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeremy Onnen.

“I love to deal with the kids,” says Onnen. “I love to help them get over their pain, get over their problems. Sarah Hawkins; she is one of those girls that you walk into the room and she just makes you feel happy.”

Dr. Onnen performed surgery and straightened Sarah’s feet, but her battle wasn't over. She went through months of physical therapy. After it all, Sarah reached an important milestone: she got to walk.

“It was really nice,” says Sarah. “I walked along and it was just really nice to be back up. And I was like ‘woo! What am I doing?’”

Sarah wasn’t the only one excited by her first steps.

“That was the first time she'd walked in a very long time and that was a great experience for me,” says Onnen. “I cried. I did. I'll say it, I cried.”

Sarah is an inspiration. Her motivation and will to walk paid off. Now she can play with all the other kids and not sit alone.

“I can pretty much do whatever I want,” Sarah says.

Step by step Sarah is making great strides, proving miracles do happen.

“Sarah, she has more heart than anybody I know,” says Doug Hawkins. “She's also the strongest person I know. Everything she's gone through, she's gone through it with a smile. I don't think you can get her down. No matter what she's always going to keep trying, she's always going to rise above it.”

Sarah continues physical therapy and it’s possible she may need more surgeries in the future. There's also a possibility her feet will stay right where they are supposed to be.

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