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Kayla's Courage

New Orleans -- Have you ever been reminded, not to sweat the small stuff?

People who overcome obstacles we couldn't imagine, inspire us to do more.

Kayla Allain is a typical high school senior with everything going for her, except the arms that most of us take for granted.

Kayla is a senior at The Academy of the Sacred Heart.  Her worries are surprisingly the same as any other 18-year-old woman with eyes on the future.

"The most difficult thing for me right now is college and that's just because there is so much involved in applying for college and scholarships and everything.  I don't really have trouble getting around and doing things for myself," She said.

Kayla's condition is called amelia of the upper extremities.  Experts call it one of the rarest limb defects, but Kayla never let the setback in life define her.

Kayla's parents had been married two years when her mother found out she was pregnant with Kayla.  They were on cloud nine.  But Kayla's dad was concerned that he never saw arms in the ultra-sounds.  It wasn't until Kayla was born that the Allains knew the truth. 

He said telling his wife was the hardest part.  "Saying to her we have a beautiful baby, but. . . ." he said.  "We handled it as well as we could under the circumstances."

Kayla was four- or five-years-old before she realized she was not like most little girls.

"As I got older I realized, oh, they have arms and I don't.  Obviously something is different.

"When you're little it's your instinct to learn how to write with your hands to eat and do everything you had to do.  For me, I had feet so that's what I would do."

"She wore prosthetics and she used them for a while," her father said. "She wanted to do things with her feet."

But Kayla's challenges were just beginning.  Her kidneys did not form properly from birth, and by the age of six a kidney transplant was imminent.  Her mother was a perfect match.

At age 12 she was diagnosed with scoliosis, and back surgery was the only option if she wanted to continue to walk.  Kayla persevered through a grueling recovery.

Everyday tasks have become almost effortless for the girl with beauty and brains. 

"In all my classes we have adjustable chairs so they can reach the desk.  It looks like other chairs, it's just a little higher height," Kayla added. 

The changes make it easy for her to type with her feet.  "Just the other day I had someone marvel at how fast I was going and that I could actually type!

"The only thing I get help with is putting on my backpack after class is over and getting lunch in the cafeteria."

Kayla has turned lunch into artistry, gracefully using her feet as she sits on the gallery of the school with classmates.

"She's always happy and she's able to do everything.  There's never really a downtime, there's always uptime," said her best friend Lee Barahona.

"The first thing they notice is her smile," said mom Missy Allain.

Kayla is a leader in her school academically, and a writer for the school newspaper.  She's been an ambassador for kids battling diseases since she was young.  Now, there's a little stardom stirring inside her.

"My dream when I was little was to be a famous singer.  That's a dream I'd like to keep," she said.
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