MUSKEGON, Mich. -- A fourth grader in Muskegon is overcoming a rare joint and muscle disease, though it's not her condition holding her back but her family's minivan.
“I’m nine and two thirds," said Ali Pummel-Stone Wednesday, drawing her next creation and sharing her talent with FOX 17. "I just believe that if you put your mind to it, you can actually do it."
Meeting Pummel-Stone you wouldn't know that this sunny and smart nine-year-old has already had 16 surgeries. She was born with Arthrogryposis and has clubbed feet, hands, and scoliosis. Despite that she tells FOX 17 she had the best handwriting in her class recently, and she loves to draw and write songs.
"I may be handicapped but I’m still a normal kid no matter what," she said, "because my hands may be different from everyone else but that does not mean that I’m not smart.”
When she and her mom drive to Philadelphia for her monthly doctor appointments or surgeries, or even to the park, they are unable to bring her power wheelchair. She's forced to be pushed in her stroller because their van does not have space or a ramp. Now they are raising money for a wheelchair accessible van, one that would allow her to just be a kid.
"I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost not able to lift her anymore," said Ronda Stone, her grandmother, now adoptive mother.
“This van is our wish. This is going to change our life big time. I want to take her to the zoo and let her be free, let her be normal. In her stroller she can’t be normal because I have to push her," said Stone.
Until then, Pummel-Stone remains strong, not just for herself but others.
“If anyone bullies you because of the way you are, you don’t have to be afraid of them, because we all know, that you may be handicapped but we all pack a big, big punch," said Pummel-Stone.
If you would like to donate or help Ali and her family get a wheelchair accessible van see their GoFundMe page. Dave and Lori Hastings, with the well-known non-profit Lori's Voice, also pledged to match $5,000 once Ali's campaign reaches $5,000.
Ali's family also has a spaghetti dinner, silent auction and 50/50 raffle benefit to help fund a wheelchair accessible van on May 7, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This be held at the VFW located at 6285 E. Apple Ave, Muskegon, 49442. Dinner for adults will cost $7, children ages 4 to 12 will cost $5, and those 3 and younger will eat for free.