AUSTIN - An Austin girl taught to celebrate the differences has a bigger smile than she's ever had before.
Mady Gardner, 6, received a gift no little girl can resist. A doll with a prosthetic arm, just like her own.
Mady was born with a congenital amputation, missing the lower half of her left arm.
But she doesn't let that hold her back.
"I can ride my bike. I can do a cartwheel," she said.
"She's not defined by her physical limitation," said Mady's mom Mindy Gardner. "She really sees it as an opportunity to feel empowered because she feels empowered every time she overcomes something."
In 2015, Mindy found out about the organization Enabling The Future.
It connects donating volunteers to people in need of prosthetic limbs.
"I put in my application and they hadn't responded, so I put out a plea to the group and said, 'Hey, do you know how I could get matched to somebody who's doing the printing?'" Mindy Gardner said.
Joy Schwartz saw the post.
"As a teacher and as a mom it just touched my heart, and I just reached out to her and said, 'I don't know where you are, but I'm in Beaumont, Texas... My students and I can do this for you,'" she replied. "She said, 'I'm in Austin' and I said, "I have a car, I'll drive."
Schwartz teaches computer science and robotics at West Brook high school.
Her students got down to work with their 3D printer, making Mady 3 prosthetic arms and one adorable doll.
Mady is one of five clients the team works with from as far away as Scotland.
"As an educator, this is the most rewarding thing I've ever been a part of, and I've taught for 29 years," she added.
Mindy Gardner is also grateful -- the technology can help her daughter reach for the stars one step at a time.
"The simple things like opening a bag of chips on her own are wins for her," Mindy Gardner added. "In our house, we really celebrate the differences. And that's what she really embraces, the differences."
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