Proctor, MN ( - You wouldn't know by watching her count on her classroom abacus at Bay View Elementary, in Proctor, but watching six–year–old Emma McDonald sprint back and forth between her favorite toys, it becomes clear there's something special about this fiery little grade–schooler. "It takes her a little bit longer to get up the stairs sometimes. It takes her a little longer travel time to get to music. She has a special gym class called adaptive phy–ed for kids who need a little extra help, or have mobility problems," said Emma's mom, Jennifer McDonald, as she and Emma played together in her classroom. But perhaps what's most unique about Emma's story is the fact that she's walking at all—something doctors weren't ready to promise her mother. Emma was born with spina bifida, a disorder of the spinal cord that, unless treated, typically results in limited to no mobility as the body develops. Jennifer says it's a fate she never wanted her daughter to succumb to. "I didn't want her to be dependent on anybody for just the smallest little things, like going to the water fountain and getting a drink of water," said Jennifer. At just two months old, Emma went to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, in St. Paul, where she had her first corrective surgery. Now, six years later, and after various different orthopedic procedures, Emma is standing tall and is eager to do her favorite things like ice skate, dance, and play with friends. And, while she may never be able to play soccer later in life, and still needs a little help getting around... "Her feet don't move like yours and mine do. She needs extra help to walk—she uses braces," said Jennifer. ...Emma isn't letting anything stand in her way of standing tall. Emma and her family also attended the annual Bridesmaid's Ball, in Duluth's Greysolon Plaza, tonight., which is a fundraiser for the Gillette Children's Health Care program that preformed her surgery. Jennifer McDonald says, not only does it give back to the program that helped her become who she is today, but it also gives her a chance to dress like the princess she is. - Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness