'I want to be a runway model'

DeWayne Bartels
Samantha Fox, 9, of North Peoria, works on her physical therapy at Easter Seals. Looking on is her mother, Stacey Wiseley, and her little sister, Beila, 10 months.

Though cerebral palsy has twisted her legs, Samantha Fox loves playing soccer. Her gait hardly slows her down.

Fox also has a dream of riding her bike soon without training wheels and help from mom or dad.

The therapy Fox receives at Easter Seals will lead her to her goal, the 9-year-old North Peoria girl said.

“They are working hard to help me,” Fox said.

The second grader at Charter Oak School has a lot to deal with, her mother, Stacey Wisely, said.

Beyond the physical limitations Fox also has to cope with being different from other children.

But, Easter Seals, Wisely said, has also helped her daughter with confidence.

Wisely said when the family first came to Easter Seals, all Fox wanted was to see other children like her, to know she was not alone.

Since then, Wisely said, the Easter Seals staff has helped instill in Fox the fact that she is as capable of a fruitful life as any child.

“They helped get her involved in a beauty pageant and in a play with the Penguin Project,” Wisely said.

 Fox was diagnosed at about 2-years-old.

“She was diagnosed in Michigan, where we lived then. They told me not to expect her to ever walk. It was a bad day,” Wisely said.

“Today, she can walk, run and jump. She has balance issues, but they are working on those,” Wisely said.

“She really wants to be able to run like other children and, with the help of Easter Seals, I believe she will.”

Fox has been an Easter Seals client for two years.

“She knows therapy is the way to go. It’s all fun for her here,” Wisely said.

“She gets frustrated at school. She’s the only kid there with cerebral palsy. She desperately wants to fit in.”

Aside from her walking issues Fox is much like most her age.

She loves to go shopping for shoes and clothes. She loves bike-riding and riding her four-wheeler.

“Still,” Wisely said, “she does see herself as different sometimes. Her main challenge is she is so social and wants to do what the other kids are doing.”

Wisely said her daughter is so anxious to be like other children she is undergoing surgery this summer which will entail breaking both her legs to straighten them.

“She is excited about it,” Wisely said.

“Right, Samantha?”

Fox looked up. “Yes,” she said.

Wisely asked her to explain why.

“I want to get rid of my braces,” Fox said.

“I want to be a runway model when I grow up.”

The 2009 Easter Seals Telethon is scheduled for March 7. The five-hour local show will broadcast live from the Par-A-Dice Hotel in East Peoria and Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington-Normal on WMBD 31 from 6-11 p.m.