Student with Rare Condition Takes First Steps at School

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Miracles can—and do— happen

When five-year-old Jette-Marie Vasquez took her first steps in her Kreinhop Elementary classroom this week, she made the impossible, possible.

Jette-Marie Vasquez.

Jette-Marie was born with a rare chromosomal arrangement that affected her ability to walk.

“Doctors were not optimistic about her survival or quality of life,” Vasquez’s mother, Kendall Leanos said.

With health professionals laying out a tough road ahead for Jette-Marie, her mother persevered and continued to find ways to support her daughter.

“It has not been easy,” Leanos said. “I had to start my own business just to be able to make my own hours. We go to therapy sessions five times a week and have countless doctor’s visits, so a nine-to-five job was impossible.”

One visit from an Early Childhood Intervention specialist changed Jette-Marie’s life forever.

“We first met Ms. Andrews when Jette-Marie was only 3 months old,” Leanos said. “Ms. Andrews was the specialist who first evaluated Jette-Marie’s needs and offered her at-home therapy.”

Little did Leanos know at the time, but Ms. Andrews would later become Jette-Marie’s Kindergarten Developmental Teacher here in Klein ISD.

Kreinhop Elementary Developmental teacher, Dominique Andrews.

“This is my first year teaching in Klein,” Dominique Andrews said. “Jette is an amazing child and I have watched her grow so much in all areas of her development—words cannot describe the feeling of seeing her beat the odds.”

Jette-Marie’s first steps touched the hearts of many, but none more than that of her mother’s.

“I have been emotional ever since she took those steps,” Leanos said. “I am so proud of my daughter and thankful for all the support we have received from Ms. Andrews, her physical therapist, and countless others.”

Andrews knows that her work may have aided Jette-Marie, but that her strength and will was there all along.

“Moments like this is why I love what I do.”

“She put the icing on the cake for me,” Andrews said. “To see her walk was incredible and I feel blessed to have her in my class. Moments like this is why I love what I do. I pray every day to be the best teacher possible and to make a difference and positive impact in each of my students’ lives.”

Stories like Jette-Marie’s remind us of just how powerful resilience, strength, and love is.

We are absolutely in awe of Jette-Marie Vasquez, Kendall Leanos, and Dominique Andrews, and we hope that their story inspires everyone in our community facing adversity.

They continue displaying a sense of possibility, optimism, and hope because miracles can—and do— happen.

Press play in the video above to watch Jette-Marie take her first steps with Andrews.