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American Girl viral video leads girl to Long Island for new prosthetic leg

Emma Bennett, 10, from Houston, Texas, practices soccer

Emma Bennett, 10, from Houston, Texas, practices soccer with her new prosthetic limb. Credit: A Step Ahead

The Texas girl in a video that went viral after she cried with joy upon receiving an American Girl doll with a prosthetic leg was on Long Island recently to get a new prosthetic leg of her own, courtesy of the same Hicksville company that fulfilled her wish for an American Girl doll that looks like her.

Emma Bennett, 10, and her family spent July 19 to 22 here, with their traveling costs arranged by a private, nonprofit foundation and the leg donated by A Step Ahead Prosthetics.

“It was so awesome,” Emma says of the trip. “One, I got a new leg. My old one was too little for me; I outgrew it really fast. And it was really special to meet the people who created my doll for me.” During her time on Long Island, Emma was fitted for her new leg and practiced walking, balancing and playing soccer while wearing it.

Since June, more than 37 million viewers worldwide have watched the video Emma’s mom, Courtney, posted of her daughter opening an American Girl doll box at her home in suburban Houston to find the doll with an above-the-knee prosthesis. Emma was thrilled, sobbing and saying, “She’s just like me.”

A Step Ahead has been making modified dolls for kids who are missing limbs for years, says Erik Schaffer, founder and head prosthetist at A Step Ahead Prosthetics. He was so touched by Bennett’s reaction to her doll that he decided to custom-make what he calls a “state-of-the-art” limb for her.

“Her video serves as a reminder that kids with limb loss often feel alone and excluded, and that even a small thing like a doll with a matching prosthesis can do tremendous things for their mental and physical development,” Schaffer says. “By providing Emma with a custom-fit prosthesis, it is our hope that we can help Emma live life without limitations.”

Emma’s right leg was amputated above the knee when she was 9 months old due to a congenital birth defect, says Courtney Bennett. Emma traveled to New York with her mom as well as her dad, Justin, and sister, Addison, who turned 7 while they were here.

While in New York, Emma and her family — and her doll, of course — also spent a day as guests of the American Girl Place in Manhattan.

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