PHOENIX — Stella Lackey is just 2 years old, but she's a fighter.
She may be small in frame, but her personality is larger than life. She has an aggressive neuromuscular disorder that causes her muscles to waste away, but new gene therapy is allowing her to thrive.
“She got [a] wheelchair at a year and a half, and she really likes to use the wheels. And, as the mom of a toddler who likes to put her hands in her mouth all the time, that’s nerve-wracking,” her mother Samantha explained.
Stella's condition makes her immunocompromised. So, her mother wanted to find a way to paint the rims on her wheelchair to help her grab those instead of the dirty tires.
“I reached out to a north Phoenix community group on Facebook, and RJ responded right away and said, 'we’re happy to take on this project. It’s not something we do, but I’d love to be a part of it,'” Samantha said.
RJ Jeffries owns Jeffries Performance, a fabrication company in north Phoenix.
“You know I’m a new father, and I look at it if I was a parent trying to figure out how to do something for my daughter," Jeffries explained. "If you’re in that position where you have the ability to help somebody or get them through that project and help that little girl or help that family, that’s what it’s about.”
Samantha said the rims are already making a difference.
“For it to reflect her, and her to be confident and proud of it makes me a happy, sappy mom," said Samantha. "It’s made a huge difference in how she gets around, and I think any parent would customize their wheelchair if they could.”
RJ said, at the end of the day, it's about helping a little girl and her family.
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