Brian Reilly: Gillette Children's Hospital Hero - FOX 10 News |

Gillette Children's seating specialist gives kids strength, power

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, which causes weakness and decline in the muscles, Sophia Doebbert has been confined to a wheelchair most of her life. But the 9-year-old and her parents don't want you to look at what she can't do, but see all she can accomplish.

"She's a fighter, and she's always looking for new things to do," said Doug Doebbert, Sophia's dad.

At three years old, Sophia took to the park. At 5 ½, she started developing a love for dancing, and today she enjoys ballet just like many of her friends.

Sophia credits her strength and success to Brian Reilly, a seating practitioner at Gillette Children's Hospital. Reilly has been with the Doebberts since Sophia got her power chair. He custom designed the chair for Sophia, and is able to make the adjustments as she gets older.

"She grew, she's quite a bit taller," Reilly said. "So I'm going to be moving the backrest up and the seat."

Those adjustments allow Sophia to grow into her chair, stay comfortable and do everything she wants to do.

"She can play games like all little kids like to," Doebbert said.

Reilly even rigged the chair so Sophia can play with chalk, just like every other kid her age.

"It's opened up a whole incredible world for her and I often have many other families stop and ask us she received that customization, and that's a real unique gift Brian has," said Andrea Doebbert, Sophia's mom.

"It's very satisfying and it's an honor to be able to work with kids that are so brave and families are so brave," Reilly said.

For 16 years, Brian Reilly has been customizing chairs, giving children the independence they never knew possible.

"It frees up Sophia's world, gives her independence, makes her supremely confident," said Doug Dobbert.

"We deal with a lot of sad situations," Reilly said. "Sick little kids is something hard to understand and it can be sad, but we get to turn that around and make it into the best possible situation."

From the dance floor to the baseball diamond, the sky is the limit for a girl who has the same dreams as every other child.

"To see her running the bases and dancing is really awesome, that's for sure," Reilly said.

"If Sophia can think about doing it, Brian and his team will find a way to do it," Doebbert said.

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