This two-year-old girl suffers from a rare genetic mutation, and then a group of students changed her life

This two-year-old girl suffers from a rare genetic mutation, and then a group of students changed her life

Good people aren't dead.

There are too many people suffering in the world and too little kindness to stave off the suffering.

Not entirely true.

Kindness and empathy aren't dead and here's proof to show that it still thrives.

Like a group of student volunteers from the John Hopkins University's engineering department who created a bespoke walker for two-year-old RoseLynn Lidy, from Maryland, who spends most of her time lying down, being held or sitting in a high chair.

The reason why she is entirely immobile is due to a condition she suffers from called the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome—a rare genetic developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body. The severity of the condition and the associated signs and symptoms can vary widely, but some common symptoms include distinctive facial characteristics, growth delays, intellectual disability and limb defects.

"It's a spontaneous genetic mutation and it happens during formation," said Rose's mother, Annetta Lidy as reported by KOAT Action News.

However, RoseLynn's twin sister Georgia wasn’t born with the condition.

"The spontaneous genetic mutation happened in Rosie and didn't happen in Georgia," Annetta added further.

At the time of her birth, RoseLynn’s parents were told that her chances of survival were slim. RoseLynn, in fact, suffers from a range of physical, cognitive and medical issues which has led to her immobility.

RoseLynn’s therapist recommended that she learned how to walk. At the age of two, she is 24 inches tall and weighs just over 11 pounds—far too small to sit properly supported in commercially available walkers.

What she needed was a custom-made walker that would fit her small frame which, in turn, would also assist her with the core and leg strengthening.

This is when V-LINC, a Baltimore non-profit group that matches people who have special challenges caused by disease or disability with volunteers who can design and build custom solutions for them, came in the picture.

V-LINC helped Rose find her Santa Claus in the student members of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) John Hopkins University Chapter, who took on RoseLynn's project and decided to help RoseLynn find her custom-made walker via the non-profit's “Designing Our Future” program.

Mentored by V-LINC's volunteer engineer, Niel Leon and led by Caterina Esposito, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Westwood, Massachusetts, the five-member team accepted the challenge and wrapped up the task at hand by Christmas last year, just in time to give little RoseLynn her present.

"This is what we love to do. We're applying what we've learned at school to a project to help Rose out," said JHU student and team member Cole Clampifer.

“It was clear to me right away that this was something our wonderful volunteer engineers could help the Lidy's with,” Angela Tyler, V-LINC volunteer services manager, added.

"I don't think you all know how much this means to us and to our daughter," exclaimed Annetta, who couldn't contain her eyes from shedding happy tears, as the student team unfolded and set up the walker. "Since Rose was born, we've been hearing what kids with this syndrome can't do. But we've chosen to concentrate on what our daughter can do. With this walker, we believe Rose can learn to walk," Annetta tearfully added.

For Caterina, the project at hand seemed daunting but the experience to help Rosie out was an opportunity that made her believe more in her education and why she chose to pursue it.

"Meeting Rosie and her family was an exceptional experience because it really brought home how important the work we were doing was," she said. "Honestly, at times, it was a little frightening knowing the weight of effect this project would have on this child and family. In the end, it inspired us to do the best job possible so that RoseLynn can live her best life," she told Hub, John Hopkin's University Magazine.


Watch the Christmas miracle unfold here:

"Projects like this are very close to my heart because I have a cousin who was born with a condition that means he has to use a prosthetic leg," she said. "I have seen firsthand what a positive difference the right device can make, and I'm passionate about being part of making that kind of difference to people like my cousin and Rosie," Caterina explained.

Like we said, there is no dearth of kind, compassionate people in the world.

Rosie (center) tries out her custom-built walker with (from left) her twin sister, Georgia, mother Annetta, and Hopkins students Emily Maheras, Cole Clampffer, and Caterina Esposito. Image credit: Will Kirk/Homewood Photography

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