A SPECIAL EFFORT: American Legion works to get tricycle for special girl

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Physical  therapist  Leslie  Trussler ,  foreground ,  and  American  Legion  Riders  director  Michael  Walden ,  watch  as  Joy  Caffery  helps  her  daughter ,  Emma ,  take  her  first  ride  on  her  AmTryke  tricycle .  (Staff photo by John Coffelt)

Physical therapist Leslie Trussler , foreground , and American Legion Riders director Michael Walden , watch as Joy Caffery helps her daughter , Emma , take her first ride on her AmTryke tricycle . (Staff photo by John Coffelt)

By John Coffelt, staff writer

Young Emma Caffrey isn’t able to speak.

But, sitting on her brand new, candy-apple red tricycle, her smile says plenty.

Veterans from the American Legion Riders and the local American Legion Post 78 recently teamed up with a national charitable organization to present Emma with a limited-mobility therapeutic tricycle.

“It’s always good when you can do something for children,” said American Legion director Michael Walden.

“Riding a bike is a rite of passage every child should be afforded the opportunity to enjoy,” Walden said. “Today another child can enjoy her rite of passage…”

Six-year-old Emma has a rare genetic disorder called Emmanuel syndrome.

The National Library of Medicine describes the Emmanuel syndrome as “a chromosomal disorder that disrupts normal development and affects many parts of the body. Infants … have weak muscle tone (hypotonia) and fail to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive). Their development is significantly delayed, and most affected individuals have severe to profound intellectual disability.”

“It’s like down syndrome,” explained Emma’s mother, Joy Caffrey, “but [Emma] has an extra part of her 11 and 22 chromosomes.

“She was born with a cleft palate and has been tube fed since birth.”

The doting mother added that Emma works hard in therapy.

“She used to not like it until [physical therapist] Leslie [Trussler] started doing her therapy.”

Trussler describes Emma as “an angel.”

“I tell her mom that I really think that [Emma] is one of God’s angels. It has been a pleasure watching her improve over the years with the little things. They’re what we get really excited about.”

Emma, completely nonverbal, has said “Mom” three times in the past months. ….

Continue reading this complete story in this week’s (Feb. 5) print edition of the Manchester Times. Call 931-728-7577 to subscribe to the print and/or full online edition.

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