Knowing her Sweet Sixteen birthday party was coming up, Helen Anne Cranch wanted to invite a particularly special friend to help her celebrate. The tenth-grader made sure to include the doctor who helped her stand and walk for the first time -- Leon Root, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery.
Helen also has lots of other friends at HSS. She catches up with them during her weekly schedule of physical therapy and speech therapy appointments. And her therapists are as much a part of her life as her many friends at Henry Viscarda High School, because they help Helen, who has cerebral palsy, to learn new skills, function more independently, and speak more clearly. They love her, and she loves them.
Until she was seven, Helen was unable to stand, let alone walk. This changed dramatically in 1996, when Dr. Root corrected her dislocated hips and released tendons that were making it impossible for her to stay erect. When the casts came off six weeks later, it was the first time Helen could stand perfectly straight. (She is pictured here with her second grade teacher, Ms. Robb, just after her surgery.)
Helen has since been exposed to a wealth of new possibilities, and now that she has a motorized wheelchair - along with her ability to stand and walk -- she can go further than ever before.