If you haven’t yet heard of Mighty Miss Maya, you may want to check the inspiration meter of your social media feeds. Her first steps have been hopping, skipping, and jumping all over the web, restoring faith in the indomitable human spirit. The fact that Maya was wearing PLAE shoes when she took those first few steps tickles us way past pink - not only do we love it when our shoes hug little feetsies taking their first steps wherever and whenever they take them, but we take pride in helping to support developing bodies as they find their strength and balance the way Maya is doing now.
Photos care of Ann Tisdale
Don’t get it twisted, though: Maya has been mighty since day one. MIGHTY. Born a micro preemie at 26 weeks, Mighty Miss Maya weighed in at 1 pound 10 ounces when she burst upon the scene. She was such a tiny newborn, her daddy’s wedding ring reached from her fingers all the way up to her shoulders. Though she spent her first 87 days of life in NICU at a hospital three hours away from her family home, she looked like she was out of the woods when she was finally released to go home.
When Maya had a few early developmental milestone delays, doctors told Ann and Toby not to worry, Maya would “catch up.” Luckily, Maya was already receiving in-home services from Early On, a partner of the family-focused nonprofit 5toOne, and it was at the Early On therapists’ urging that Maya’s parents pursued a concrete diagnosis for their mighty little girl. An MRI and other tests confirmed what was suspected: Maya had cerebral palsy (CP); specifically, spastic diplegia, a type of CP that causes her lower extremities to be spastic and her core to be weak. Her mother Ann points out, “Because her CP was caused by prematurity, she doesn’t have any other underlying neurological conditions, and she is very motivated and a willing participant in physical therapy.” This specific set of circumstances means that Maya was a great candidate for St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s life-changing surgery, selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).
Photos care of Ann Tisdale
On May 9th, Maya had SDR, and only seven weeks later she began to walk on her own! To continue her amazing progress, though, she trains ex-ten-sive-ly. “Maya goes to physical therapy five times a week and does a home therapy routine twice a day to continue to build strength and work toward fully independent walking,” Ann explains. “At four years old, she works harder than many professional athletes. She does all this with her ‘I can do it’ attitude and bright Maya smile.”
Insurance only covers a small portion of the costs associated with the 200+ therapy sessions Maya will need to have in the year following her surgery, though, so her grandparents started a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to help meet the exorbitant costs. We hope the campaign will exceed its goals, and we invite you to support Maya’s PLAE-it-forward ambassadorship in support of 5toOne by using checkout code GIVE532. You can find Maya on Facebook, Instagram, and YouCaring.