Ten-year-old Emma Bennett was born with a rare birth defect, and as a consequence is missing her right leg. Although she wears a prosthetic leg and is as active as any other girl her age, participating in swimming, soccer, cheerleading and volleyball, she’s never owned a doll that fully represents who she is. Although Emma loves her American Girl collection, her parents recall hearing her bemoan the fact that none of the dolls really looked like her.
Her parents captured the moment on their phone and posted the touching video to Facebook, in which Emma, in a state of shock, exclaims that her new doll looks, “Just like me!” The viral video, posted June 1, has been viewed over 33 million times and shared over 211,000 times.
Emma’s mom, Courtney Bennett, said via Facebook, “I can say all day long that I try and put myself in Emma’s position, but one will never truly know what it must feel like to want a doll just like you. I knew she would love it, but never could have imagined how much she truly needed it!”
Emma and her family hope that this viral video helps doll manufacturers see that there are a variety of different girls who would benefit from dolls like he one Emma received.
A Step Ahead Prosthetics manufactures prosthetic limbs for people, but also children with limb loss who want their dolls to match them. They do not charge for their service, and instead simply ask that parents send in the American Girl doll their child has picked out and they will create the modifications based on specifications.
“We are NOT charging for the customization; we feel that it is absolutely crucial to boost the self-confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of inclusion for little girls with limb loss, and that something as small as a doll that resembles them can have a profound effect on their mental and physical well-being.
In that spirit, anyone with a child who has had or is facing an amputation is welcome to send us an American Girl doll which we will happily modify with a prosthetic limb (or limbs) to match the child. The prosthetics themselves are entirely designed and fabricated in our prosthetics shop alongside the “real” prosthetics, and are painted by hand in a variety of colors.”