JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Victories come both big and small in life. For one Region 8 child diagnosed with cerebral palsy, triumph means putting one foot in front of the other every day.
Now that may not sound like a big thing to most of us, but for this 5-year-old from Hickory Ridge, just being alive is reward for all that she's been through. This year's UCP SuperStar, Chloe Hoots, has overcome a lot in her short life.
Chloe tries with all her might to move her left leg up a small staircase, perched against her crutches, and feeling the hand of her physical therapist right behind her back--should she start to fall.
"I want you to step for me," said Cindy VanHorn, a physical therapist with The Learning Center in Jonesboro.
The center works to empower and enhance the lives of the developmentally disabled and their families by providing quality services and advocacy.
Every step that Chloe takes represents years of hard work.
"When I first got Chloe, she was just a year of age and she struggled to hold her head up," said VanHorn.
It was right around that time, Chloe's parents learned their daughter had cerebral palsy. Not shocking news to them after all she'd been through just coming into the world. Chloe's mother, Cynthia, had a very difficult pregnancy, was diagnosed with placenta previa and was struggling to carry Chloe to term.
Her condition worsened at 26 weeks and the doctor intervened.
"He said, 'three strikes, you're out,'" said Cynthia Hoots, Chloe's Mother. "So we did an emergency c-section. He had done the ultrasound right before and she measured two pounds."
But Chloe weighed much less... just a pound and 13 ounces. So premature, she couldn't be held... A mere touch could rip her skin.
Chloe was immediately transferred to Arkansas Children's Hospital.
"Somewhere in between is when she went without oxygen, " said Cynthia.
Mom in one hospital. Baby in another. A family in crisis.
"They called my husband telling him that he's gonna have to get over if he's going to see her. Her body was shutting down, " said Cynthia Hoots." "Those monitors go off and on non-stop, they flog her and try to stimulate her to get her back. It's a horrible, terrifying experience.
It looked like Chloe wasn't going to make it; but she did.
"With lots of prayer, she made it through it all, " said Cynthia.
All the while, Chloe was suffering bleeds in the tiny vessels of her brain that would ultimately affect the use of her legs.
So tiny, she suffered a perforated esophagus and a paralyzed vocal cord when hospital personnel tried to intubate her, or establish an airway to save her life.
As her family struggled, UCP stepped in.
"They gave us a gas card to get back and forth to therapies and then they always provided Chloe with a stroller, " said Cynthia.
Spend a few minutes with this precious girl and you'll notice that smile and an attitude that anything is possible. Isn't that right, Chloe.
A Daddy's girl, Chloe is spunky and full of life.
"Head up. Head up. Here we go. Arms up, "said VanHorn. "She really has to work at it. But, she does it with a great attitude. Our goal is to keep her playing and running and headed to kindergarten."
Now the sky's the limit for Chloe.
"I hope that--even though--with her legs and everything that it doesn't keep her back," said Cynthia. I really know that she can be something and she's got the mind for it. I just know that she's going to make something big of herself.