Five-year-old London Fazekas was never expected to walk. But now, she’s running, swimming and even scoring soccer goals in her backyard.
London was diagnosed with spina bifida when her mother, Crystal Byers, was 18 weeks pregnant with her. Spina bifida is a life-threatening birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly, according to a definition on the Mayo Clinic's website.
Byers, 37, said she was "terrified" when she learned the news from doctors at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
She immediately started researching spina bifida to better understand the condition.
"It was scary, because a lot of the stories that I was reading weren't that positive," she said.
After she was born, London underwent surgery to close the defect affecting her spinal cord and to prevent any more damage and infection.
"For the first three years of her life, we were at doctor’s appointments, going through physical therapy and in and out of the hospital," Byers said.
London's was described as having had "disabling symptoms." She could not crawl as a baby.
The rehabilitation team at Hasbro Children’s Hospital helped stabilize London's progress. Her physical therapy included exercises like bridges and squats, balancing on a Bosu ball and navigating obstacle courses.
As London continued physical therapy, her weekly visits to the hospital decreased to just monthly visits.
Her mother credits her daughter’s "positivity" with helping her persevere.
"She’s a really happy kid, and honestly, I don’t even think she realizes the amazing feat she’s overcome," Byers said.
"She is so excited and proud of herself when she is able to master a new skill, and she is constantly challenging herself to do whatever comes next," Brenna Taish, a physical therapist at Hasbro Children’s Rehabilitation, told "Good Morning America."
Now, London’s smile spreads from ear to ear when she is able to stand without assistance.
Swimming, ballet and karaoke are just some of her favorite activities. At home, she kicks around a soccer ball with her dad in the backyard.
“When she does achieve [these goals], she’s super excited,” Byers said.
Her doctor -- Dr. Petra Klinge, director of Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s pediatric neurosurgery division -- predicts that she is going to "live an independent life."
"After seeing her recently, I was able to see the happiness and joy in her progress," Klinge told “GMA.”
Her mother’s biggest wish for her daughter is that she "continues to stay positive."
"In your life, you’ll adapt," Byers advises other families dealing with similar struggles. "Take everything that’s given to you as a blessing.”