By Kathy Walsh

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– This holiday season, an 11-year-old, born with just six fingers, is counting her blessings. Among them are her family and a Denver doctor. They are her champions and let her know that nothing is out of reach.

On a grand piano in the Lone Tree Arts Center, Rylee McKnight from Colorado Springs fills the room with a piece called “I Have Been Blessed.”

(credit: CBS)

Rylee has fused elbows, short arms and just three fingers on each hand. What she doesn’t have is anger.

“God just blessed me with a difference,” Rylee told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Rylee McKnight (credit: CBS)

Rylee plays tennis, soccer and skis. Surgery has helped make her hands more functional. Dr. Laurel Benson moved one digit over to the thumb position.

(credit: McKnight family)

“So now she can kind of get around something to hold it,” explained Dr. Benson, pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hands.

(credit: CBS)

Dr. Benson has been Rylee’s surgeon at Sky Ridge Medical Center since Rylee was a baby.

“I have never seen a moment of self-pity out of this one. She’s never come in and complained to me,” said Dr. Benson.

Dr. Laurel Benson (credit: CBS)

But Rylee has struggled.

“There’s some kids that are just really mean,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

Jackie McKnight said her daughter has been called names like “dinosaur.”

“She’s been called monster or a freak,” said Jackie.

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“I cry and then my mom just says, ‘It will be okay’ and sometimes she cries with me,” said Rylee.

“You don’t want to see your child hurting,” explained an emotional Jackie.

(credit: McKnight family)

“And then it gets all better,” said Rylee.

This 7th grader says her loving family and her faith make her stronger.

(credit: CBS)

She is remarkable, resilient Rylee and she has been blessed.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


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