HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (WGN) – An Illinois teen born with clubfoot defied the odds and competed in the state gymnastics championship this past weekend.
Sol Serratos' love for gymnastics began at an early age.
"I noticed she didn't really have the fear gene. That was part and parcel of me saying you can do whatever you want and she would," explained Sol's mother Elda Bonilla. "I had a bed that had an end on it and she would treat it like a balance beam - climbing on walls, sofas. At that point, I said, 'If I'm going to save my furniture, I better take her to a gym.'"
She competed up to Level 8 at her club gym before joining the Hoffman Estates Hawks to gain more of the team approach that high school competition offers.
"Any time you have a kid like Sol walk in your gym, you're really thankful," remarked Hoffman Estates head gymnastics coach David Calisch.
On top of Sol's talent, her coach has another level of appreciation for her.
"I was born with a club foot, so my foot was turned in. I got surgery to fix it and make it straight."
"It was traumatic," Elda noted. "She was born with a cord wrapped around her neck. It took us a little while to get her to breathe. I was praying so hard just to get through that. Then, we saw her foot which was a complete surprise. Right away we sought medical help to first put it in a more neutral position and then go from there."
"We did some muscle transfers and tendon lengthening, which helped her greatly," explained Dr. Haluk Altiok, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in pediatrics at Shriners Hospital for Children. "We brought her foot into a neutral position, which then facilitated her to be more independent."
"My goal was to get her foot in the most normal position it could be," remembered Elda. "That's really what I wanted to address is making sure she was confident and able to walk without falling over."
Not only can she walk and run, but she can soar and wouldn't change a thing.
"It's been part of me my whole entire life," Serratos said. "I can't change it. I don't want to change it, either. It's fine how it is."
Serratos finished 14th at the Illinois High School Association meet this year, but qualifying was a remarkable achievement for the sophomore, who has two more years of high school left.
"Every child dreams and I believe they should chase that," Dr. Altiok said. "That's why we practice this medicine. To actually encourage kids to follow their dreams and participate in any activities they want."