A family in Corydon, Iowa, was shocked to receive a hurtful letter after their 12-year-old daughter, who was born with the children's version of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), won her first competition at the Southern Iowa Fair. The anonymous letter stated that the parents should stop "trying to make [their] child normal." Instead of allowing one person's ignorance dishearten them, the family took their daughter to her second fair, and say that she plans to continue to compete.
Stella Turnbull is no stranger to adversity. When she was born, she was only given a month to live. So, when she told her parents, Sarah and Travis, that she wanted to show goats, they decided to figure out how to help her.
“One thing we’ve learned about her is if there’s something she wants to do, we’ll try to help her to figure out how to make that happen,” Stella’s mom Sarah told WHO.
Unable to lead the goat with a harness, a metal platform was placed next to Stella's motorized wheelchair for her goat, Lou, to put his front paws on. While Stella can't feed or groom Lou, a lot of extra training went into being able to compete. She trained Lou to walk with only his back legs as she led him.
Stella ended up winning the competition, but her parents are just proud that she worked so diligently to be a part of it in the first place.
“To see her out there on her own doing something she loves to do is priceless,” Stella’s father Travis told the outlet. “She speaks with her eyes, and when she came out of there her eyes were bright and she was very proud, and it just makes us proud as parents.”
"Stella worked her goat to the best of her ability and had to practice at night so Lou would learn to walk with front feet on [the] cart and so she didn’t run Lou over," Sarah shared on Facebook after receiving the letter. "No goat will be calm and happy doing that unless it’s comfortable!"
However, the person behind the letter disagreed.
"That is unfair to the kids who truly put in the work and effort to daily feed, walk, and groom their animals for a project," the letter read in part. "This award was for the parents' glory! You should be ashamed!"
But the line that broke the family's heart came at the end of the note.
"Stop trying to make your daughter normal," it read.
"What is normal?" Travis asked. "To us, you need to just go out and do your best. If nothing else, it just motivates me even more to make sure she can do everything that everyone else can do."
The family is not allowing the letter to dampen the fun they had at the competition. In fact, they're hopeful that shining a light on this story will help "[inspire] others to never give up" and to "help others say 'OK, we can do this,'" according to Sarah.
Stella has already shown Lou at another fair on Sunday and plans to attend more in the future.
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