7-year-old Amputee Dances With Help of Prosthesis

Sarah Czapp continues to shine in the spotlight after the Shriners Hospital for Children has helped her lead a normal, happy childhood full of opportunities. The Shriners provide her the medical care and physical therapy she requires after being born without a left leg and hip, along with several other medical conditions.

The 7-year-old daughter of George and Jocelyn Czapp of Warwood, she still amazes her family and those around her with her persistence and hard work to overcome adversity. On July 27, she was excited to perform with the dance line during the halftime show at the annual 74th Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game at Wheeling Island Stadium, according to her mother.

“There has obviously been the ups and downs and obstacles, but we couldn’t have gotten to where we’re at without the Shriners’ help,” said Jocelyn Czapp, who has been taking her daughter to Shriners hospitals most of Sarah’s life to receive treatment, therapy and prosthetics after Sarah was born without a left leg and hip, scoliosis of the spine and several other medical conditions.

The Czapps, who have two older boys, Garrett and Elijah, said they were told by doctors their daughter would never crawl or walk, or even be able to roll over.

She was also born with her left foot extending from her abdomen, which was amputated when she was only about 14 months old. Right after she was born, Czapp said they were referred to the Shriners Hospital in Erie, Pa. She said Sarah has several doctors who work with her on her medical conditions. She said while they use to make about a dozen trips a year to the Erie hospital, they are now down to about six trips a year. Czapp said the Shriners Hospitals do not charge them for any of the medical care they provide for their daughter.

Sarah received her first prosthesis early in 2013 and continues to be fitted with others as she grows. She is being fitted for her seventh prosthetic leg this week.

“But she did everything — like every milestone. She started crawling her own way, she started walking on the couch. … She was about two and a half when she started walking without a walker. It was not long after she began walking, she participated in her first Shriner commercial.

While there have been a lot of trips to the Shriner Hospital and local physical therapy sessions, Sarah continues to overcome the many challenges she has faced, according to her mother. While Sarah takes dance lessons and plays outside like her brothers, she has also landed in the national spotlight after she appeared in several Shriners Hospitals for Children national commercials. Czapp said dance lessons have made such a difference in her daughter’s life.

“She started dance with Oglebay Institute and Cheryl Pompeo has been amazing,” Czapp said. Pompeo is OI’s dance director. She said the two have formed a tremendous bond since she started dancing at the studio. She said dance has served as tremendous therapy for her daughter.

“So we continued with the ballet, the stretching, and she started doing some gymnastics out there to do some more core strengthening to keep that back straight. She does jazz, tap, and is also in the Oglebay Institute Dance Company,” she added.

Sarah has also appeared in numerous Oglebay Institute dance productions and has had the opportunity to appear in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.

“She has been in all their recitals, all their plays. Dance is her whole life. … She loves it. And I would not let her do it if she didn’t, but she absolutely loves it,” Czapp said. “We go four days a week now and she loves every moment of it.”

Czapp said Sarah ended up in the OVAC halftime show this past weekend after participating in a summer dance camp. She said the camp organizers “fell in love with her,” and asked her to participate in the show, knowing the Shriners were already in partnership with the OVAC event. Her mother said they wanted her to participate so people know more about what the Shriners are all about and the wonderful opportunities they afford so many children with disabilities.

“It changed all of our lives, our whole family,” Czapp commented about the Shriners Hospitals. “I was doing an interview with her last commercial, and they asked me, ‘What would you life be like without the Shriners,’ and I just started crying. The Shriners have given us everything. They do everything for the kids and they’re awesome with her.”

Czapp said her daughter has accepted herself the way she is and has learned to adapt to overcome everyday challenges like any other child.

“She’s just like every other kid,” she said. She said she loves to get up in the morning and play with her Barbie dolls.

“She always wanted to keep up with her brothers. … We’re trying to learn how to ride her bike this year, it’s been an experience because we have to maneuver things so she can pedal and things like that, but she loves being outside, loves to go to the playground and loves to swim,” Czapp said. “She is involved a lot this year and even with school when she is playing with her friends she is able to keep up with them … because you always worry about that.”

Czapp said the Shriners continue to open doors for Sarah and their family with continued support and medical care. “She loves to be social and she loves filming these commercials for Shriners,” Czapp said. “She gets to advocate for what the Shriners do for her. She gets to show them that, ‘this is what I get to do because the Shriners give me this leg and they help me. … She’s the shining star.”

Please contact our knowledgeable staff at Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics for any questions. We’ve been providing expert orthotic and prosthetic services in Michigan since 1955 and have grown to 22 locations, including Traverse City, Cadillac, Grand Rapids, Petoskey!

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