Ashleigh Bentz of Springfield, Missouri, donated 700 Barbies to the St. Louis Shriners Hospital that cared for her as a child.
The Springfield native raised $3,000 to purchase a selection of diverse dolls, so that children can be treated alongside a doll that looks like them. Bentz wanted to give back to the place that cared for her when she was at her most vulnerable.
Bentz was born without a fibula in one leg. She was also missing bones in her foot, and had only three toes. By age two, her leg had to be amputated. Years later, Bentz works as a prosthetic assistant at CoxHealth, helping others through circumstances similar to her own. “I broke my Barbie dolls legs so they would look like me. My mom hated that. Drove her nuts. She spent her hard-earned money on a Barbie doll; I would turn around and break it, because they wouldn’t look like me, but now they do,” Bentz told NBC affiliate KSDK. “My sister bought my Barbie for me around my birthday, and I’ve kept her on my desk since then,” Bentz continued. “Growing up, the only way my Barbie looked like me was if I broke her leg off. I can’t imagine what having one [with a prosthetic leg] would have done for my self-esteem back then.” One of the children, Connor Maine, received a doll and immediately decided to pay it forward. “I’m going to give the Barbie doll to my sister, because it means so much to me, because it gives an idea to my sister no one is the same — everyone is unique,” Maine said.
Shriners Hospital for Children Recreational Therapy director Laura Teague praised Bentz for her goodwill. “Thanks to Ashleigh and her team, our hospital’s Barbie needs are more than fulfilled,” she said. “We will have Barbies to give patients for years to come!” #binspirednews