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New walker gives girl with cerebral palsy her first skating experience


At the age of 5, Lila decided it was about time she exercised her duty as a Minnesotan to strap on some skates and take to the ice.

The problem? She suffers from cerebral palsy, and her request to go skating provided a conundrum for her mother, Aimee Blanchette, a features writer for the Star Tribune.

She described the challenge in a blog posting on her Love for Lila website and Facebook page, as well as in a feature she wrote for the Star Tribune published on Thursday.

How was she going to enable her daughter, who can't walk unassisted and travels around in a 300-pound wheelchair, get onto the ice?

Help arrived in the form of a new walker, which came last week after a wait of months and allowed Lila to move around the home on her own, which Blanchette decided she could try out on the ice.

She strapped some skates on the plucky 5-year-old and gave her a true Minnesotan experience, and you can see how she did in this video that has gone viral on Facebook, being viewed more than 61,000 times.

"As soon as we got on the ice, she took off, moving her little legs more than I’ve ever seen them move," Blanchette said on the Love for Lila website. "She must’ve skated for at least 2 miles. Around and around she went, never complaining, only wanting more."

In the feature she wrote for the Star Tribune, Blanchette revealed she had to plead with staff at the Central Park Ice Skating Loop in Maple Grove to let her daughter try the ice, after initially being told the walker wasn't allowed.

"Lila’s skating might not look like everyone else’s, but it’s skating nonetheless," she wrote. "All I needed to do was give her the chance to prove she could do it." You can read the full feature here.

The Love for Lila website explains Blanchette was told her daughter might develop cerebral palsy after a difficult pregnancy that resulted in her being deprived of oxygen for 7 minutes when she was born prematurely, causing damage to her brain.

You can read more about her journey here.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture caused by an "insult" to the developing brain, often before birth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's the most common motor disability in childhood, affecting about one in 323 children.

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