FT. WAYNE, Ind. — Her mother assumed 9-year-old Amy Hagadorn would ask for a Barbie doll in her letter to Santa. But all Amy wanted for Christmas was a day at school without the teasing she endures because of her cerebral palsy.
"Kids laugh at me because of the way I walk and run and talk," Amy wrote in her entry for radio station WJLT-FM's Letters for Santa contest. "I just want one day where no one laughs at me or makes fun of me."
Amy was born with cerebral palsy, a nervous system disorder that impairs motor function.
The third-grader has limited use of the fingers on her right hand and limps because of the brace she wears to support her right ankle. Her speech is also impaired.
She attended special education classes until this year. Most of her new classmates at South Wayne Elementary School are nice, she says, but some mock her. It's especially bad during gym and recess.
Amy's parents had been working with her teacher to minimize the teasing they feared she might face at school.
They didn't know how unhappy Amy was until she read them the letter asking for Santa's help--and not for the 3-foot doll she'd been wanting.
"It really shocked us," said Amy's mother, Patti Hagadorn.
The radio station planned to have the children who wrote the most amusing letters read them on the air, but Amy's was too moving to disregard.
"As soon as we saw that, we decided to do something with it," said Lee Tobin, the station's program manager.
Amy will be a guest on WJLT's morning show Tuesday, which Mayor Paul Helmke has proclaimed Amy Hagadorn Day. Amy's teacher and principal are expected to drop by. So is Santa.