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Dan Dalstra | Hannibal Courier Post | Hannibal, Mo.
Bryan Van Der Beek
• VIEW STORY: "Shelby's Quest to Keep Pace" •
When ten-year old Shelby Brown wants to go roller-skating, she can't. Tag is also out of the question. After she was born, her parents knew something was wrong. They suspected a neurological disorder but there was no test available to confirm this. For the next 10 years, Shelby, who was named after her father's favorite car, the Shelby Mustang, was in and out of body casts and wheel chairs, unable to walk or to do things that other kids her age were doing all around her.
In 2002, doctors finally diagnosed Shelby with Charcot-Marie Tooth Syndrome, a progressive nerve disorder which usually doesn't manifest until early adulthood. It causes a degeneration of muscles and problems with balance, hand function, and loss of some normal reflexes. Though it does not affect life expectancy, there is no known cure and can get worse throughout time.
There are plenty of things that Shelby is unable to do. She lacks reflexes to put her arms out in case of a fall, and she uses about sixty percent of her muscles. She can't do things like roller skate or play any kind of sport. Her brother carries her backpack up the steps to the bus and into the house. Friends make sure she doesn't lose her balance and fall while in line at school.
Despite these limitations, Shelby is doing her best to keep up with her peers. She is filled with a quiet energy that infects those around her and doesn't let her affliction get her down. Shelby is indeed a "normal" ten-year old girl, and with the help of friends and family, Shelby is keeping up.
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