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Valley athlete beating the odds fighting Cerebral Palsy

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 01:43:49-04

PHOENIX — Softball practice for the AZ Killer Bees looked a bit different on Tuesday, as Charlie supported her teammates from the sidelines instead of playing on the field.

Charlie was diagnosed at just three years old with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, which affects the entire left side of her body. She's had more than 20 procedures since then, including two major surgeries.

Charlie tells ABC15 she had surgery on her femur to rotate it out due to her hip turning in.

"I definitely think when I get back on the softball field, I'll be faster and stronger. I'm really excited to get back," says Charlie.

Charlie plays softball for her club team and for Northwest Christian School.

"It is something I had to adapt to. I learned that like, I can't backhand as quickly as the other girls so, I'm going to have to like sprint to the ball faster than they can," says Charlie.

Her determination and positive spirit are being recognized. Charlie was even selected to emcee UCP of Central Arizona's recent gala.

"It doesn't really define her. It's part of who she is, and it makes her stronger and so, it's a message that we want for all individuals with cerebral palsy," says Valerie Pieraccini, director of therapy with the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona.

Charlie hopes to get well soon and continue toward her dream of playing D1 college softball in Arizona.

"If I play at the next level, I can show girls that are facing disabilities, or anybody facing an injury, that if you put your mind to it, you can play at the next level," says Charlie.

Charlie will be getting her cast removed in two weeks and will then face weeks of physical therapy.

"I couldn't be prouder of her and the work she puts in on the field and off the field," says Charles Duffy, her father.

In the meantime, she's surrounded by support from her family and her teammates.

"It was definitely more challenging because I've had to work two times harder than the other girls but, I think in the end, it just made me a better athlete," says Charlie.