LANCASTER, Ohio (KTVU) - An 8-year-old Ohio girl who was born with no legs is being celebrated for her exceptional, undaunted strength in a stunning series of photos that resulted from a modeling contest.
Photographer Leslie Dye of Elegant Ele Fine Art said that back in March, she put out a call on Facebook seeking children models for an "In the Wild" themed photo shoot.
That's when she was contacted by Angela Neal who explained her daughter was born with no legs and asked if her child would be eligible as a candidate in the modeling call.
"In my mind, I was thinking of course she would, why wouldn't she." Dye told KTVU.
The photographer proceeded to reach out to Neal and told her that as long as her daughter was comfortable in front of the camera and could follow simple instructions, she would most definitely consider her for the shoot.
Not only was she considered, she was chosen.
"I did not look at La'Mareea as 'not having legs' or 'being disabled,'" Dye said. "I see her as a child, a strong, loving individual that was given a gift," she continued.
"The heart and soul of this little girl can move mountains!" Dye wrote on Facebook when she shared photos from the shoot.
As first reported in Love What Matters, Neal was 16 weeks pregnant when she learned La'Mareea would be born with Caudal Regression.
The congenital condition would result in her being born with no tibias, no femur on one side, no tailbone, as well as scoliosis and abnormalities of her arms.
Neal says her daughter has been in and out of hospitals her whole life and undergone multiple surgeries and blood transfusions.
The young child has been subject to stares from strangers and hurtful words from kids at school.
But she's "a fighter," her mother told KTVU.
Neal recalled how one day La'Mareea told her about a boy that made fun of her, saying that she could not do anything because of her condition.
The words were hurtful, but La'Mareea didn't let them get her down, according to her mom.
The child informed the boy that she could do anything he could and added she could probably even achieve a few things that he couldn't.
That statement is one her mother can back up. Neal says her daughter is always pushing herself in everything she does and is hard on herself if she can't accomplish something well the first time.
"She has amazed everyone who has met her. She can do a hand stand better than anyone I've ever met and has the arms and strength of a grown man," Neal said. "She can climb stairs, do hand stands, and will attempt every activity in gym at school that everyone else does," she continued.
Neal says La'Mareea just seeks to be included by her peers. "She does not want to be singled out, she wants to be like everyone else."
The mother says her daughter has experienced more hardship than any child should, but her difficulties have only inspired her to strive harder and to blow pass people's expectations. And the proud mom says her child endures it all with a smile on her face.
Neal adds that as La'Mareea's mother, she has always known what her daughter is capable of and with these photos, now everyone else out there will get a glimpse of her child's undeniable strength.
In Dye's whimsical "In the Wild" photo shoot, La'Mareea is depicted as a "Warrior Queen," an image that appears to suit the young model perfectly.