Springfield woman donates hundreds of dolls with prosthetic legs to Missouri hospital
For almost her entire life, playtime for Ashleigh Bentz has meant taking an extra step.
"Instead of asking me to put my shoes on, my sister would go get your leg on and let's go play," said Bentz.
She was born without a fibula in her right leg, missing bones in her foot and only three toes. Doctors amputated her leg when Bentz was just two-years-old.
"I played kickball, sometimes my leg would fall off during kickball but that's just it," said Bentz.
Bentz learned to adapt, growing to accept that having a prosthetic leg might make her different, but it also makes her who she is. This is why the now-certified prosthetic assistant decided she could show children their missing limbs don’t make them any less whole than their friends and siblings.
Bentz raised nearly $2,500 in less than 24 hours for this cause. All the money went to donating more than 600 Barbies in wheelchairs and with prosthetics to children at the Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis. Bentz says she got the idea from a girl in Massachusetts.
"For there to be a gift that a kid could potentially pick out that looks just like them, like that's big," said Bentz.
Her act of generosity even reached a boy patient who brought the doll home for his sister.
"He wanted to give it to her so she would understand like being different is okay, being different is now normal," said Bentz.
The hospital says it now has enough Barbies to give to children for years to come. Bentz was just happy to go the extra mile for kids whose playtimes now reflect their realities.
"I feel like I have served my purpose like God gave me one leg for a reason and why not make a difference with it right?" said Bentz.
Ashleigh hopes a male version of the amputee Barbie comes out so everyone can feel included.