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Imagine getting low kicked by a prosthetic leg!!!
<img src="http://www.jg-tc.com/content/articles/2004/09/13/features/feat19.jpg" align=left>
<size=1>Megan Schabbing, who has one artifical leg and wears an ankle brace on the other, spars with fellow student Andrew Blanchette, 9.Kevin Kilhoffer/Staff Photographer</size>
Breaking down barriers: Local girl is state champion in taekwondo special abilities class
By Sue Smyser, Features Writer
Megan Schabbing likes to do the same things her friends do: go for bike rides, skateboard, play softball and basketball, and ride scooters.
But for Megan, accomplishing these things takes a little more effort.
Because of genetic problems at birth, she has a man-made left leg and wears an ankle brace on the other.
For the past year she has been enrolled in a taekwondo class at the suggestion of her doctor. But the new activity has been more than just therapy for Megan, she's become state champion.
She recently earned the title in Girls Special Ability Forms competition.
Megan is the daughter of Paul and Dawn Schabbing of Neoga. She's a 50-pound bundle of energy, just under 4-feet tall, and in the fourth grade.
Her taekwondo coach, Corey Coffrin with Coffrin's ATA Black Belt Academy in Mattoon, called Megan "awesome."
"Megan is so special. She is a junior leader and she ended up in first place in Girls Special Ability competition."
This was a new division in the state and Megan was the first in Illinois to open ground.
Coffrin said he tracks the progress of his students and when he couldn't find Megan's name in the special abilities category, he checked to see why.
The categories are divided by age, rank and special abilities, but he could find no such category for girls' special abilities in Illinois.
"It's very unique that she won and the state made a division for her," he said.
Points are accumulated in competitions held in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, although Mrs. Schabbing said Megan usually just competes in Indiana and Illinois events.
Just a little more than a year ago, Megan's doctor told the Schabbings if they would enroll Megan in a dance or martial arts class it would help her balance.
While a dance class didn't grab Megan's attention, martial arts did. So about a year ago the Schabbings explained the situation to Coffrin.
"She was their first such student and they were excited. We (Paul and I) didn't know if she should be in a one-on-one class, but Mr. Coffrin said, ‘no, in this you advance as you're ready.'"
So she began a regular class with no special abilities category, and instructors use the same teaching methods as they use with other students.
"Megan has inspired other people. She's fantastic!" Coffrin said.
"She now competes in tournaments against kids all over the state with limb disorders, muscle disorders or down syndrome," Mrs. Schabbing said.
Megan's goal is to earn a black belt.
"It takes perseverance and confidence," Megan said.
She has a blue belt now and tested for her brown belt on Friday. From there, she'll need five more belts to reach her goal.
Her parents say they have always tried to treat Megan like any other child and let her do what she wants to do. But the problems at her birth were a surprise to everyone.
Mrs. Schabbing said her pregnancy in 1994 was normal except that Megan was in the breech position.
Just after the Cesarean delivery, she remembers hearing a nurse say the baby would need physical therapy because her legs were turned.
"A few hours later a doctor said she would lose both legs because they were not functional, or she would need multiple surgeries to keep them."
The condition Megan was born with is called Tibial Hemimelia, and with it, part or all of the child's shin bone (tibia) will be missing. Amputation is usually done between age 1 and 2.
In Megan's case, it was just after her first birthday that she lost the leg, and for the first 3 years of her life she had a cast on one leg or the other.
The Shriners Hospital in St. Louis provided most of her prostheses and braces, and all of her surgeries and orthopedic checkups have been done there.
She got her first artificial limb at 14 months and walked on her own at age 2½.
Megan has been in physical therapy since age 3, but this past year, because of taekwondo, her physical therapy sessions have been reduced.
Mrs. Schabbing credits taekwondo for improving her balance and coordination. Edit: Somehow I don't correlate coordination with TKD.
"She spars, falls, gets knocked down and pops back up and keeps on going," Mrs. Schabbing said. "She never gives up."
Megan said, "I can stand on one foot now."
With her man-made leg, she doesn't kick the same as everybody else. But she can still kick higher than her head.
And this brown-eyed blonde can break boards using her hands and elbows, her mother said.
Megan said she wasn't concerned about any pain involved with breaking boards (which are actually made of plastic with some perforation).
"If you go fast, you hardly even feel it, but if you go slow, it hurts even more," she said.
Megan goes to taekwondo two times a week.
"Prior to her class to learn more, she also helps teach two different classes. That is a part of the junior trainee program she was invited to be in," her mother said.
She assists instructors in camouflage to blue belt colors for Tiny Tigers age 4-6, and helps teach white and yellow belts for students 6 and up.
In addition, Coffrin's class gives students an added incentive to do well in school.
Students who achieve straight As on their report card" get a patch that says "A Team."
Megan wears one on her jacket, along with her State Champion logo.
"We can see taekwondo has given her discipline, confidence, improved her coordination and leadership that she will carry with her forever," Mrs. Schabbing said. "And she has fun."
Contact Sue Smyser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-6864.
I interpret this a sign of the end time where stealthy black robed ninjas will flip their way to a superior position and launch a prosthetic limb attack that drills though the triple-reinforced tin foil sheltering our minds from their deviant thought manipulation tactics.