Braver than Brave


At just 10-years old, Faith LeMaster mirrors Princess Merida from Disney’s Brave — and not just with her long, red locks.

Faith will take the field on Saturday for the Iowa-Iowa State football game as the next Kid Captain. The Kid Captain program highlights the stories of pediatric patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital while introducing them on the field during home football games, along with inviting them to Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium in August for a behind-the-scenes tour.

According to her mother, Faith is a well-deserving captain.

“This year she has been so brave,” Julie LaRue said.

Her bravery dates back to her birth.

LaRue found out early in her pregnancy that Faith could not move her arms and legs properly. Faith was soon diagnosed with bilateral clubfoot as well as arthrogryposis, a disorder present from birth that is characterized by stiff and immobile joints.

When Faith was born, she weighed only 3 pounds and 13 ounces, a result of being born at just 30 weeks.

Over the past few years, Faith has developed scoliosis. It became so severe it started to affect her lungs, heart, stomach, and even her digestive track, LaRue said, which prompted a necessary surgery.

“[She had the surgery] to have good sitting balance for the rest of her life, and this would be a one-time operation for her spine,” said Stuart Weinstein, a UI pediatric orthopedic surgeon who conducted Faith’s surgery. “She had the surgery to improve the quality of her life.”

In just a few months after the surgery, LaRue said she has seen progress.

“Visually, she is looking at the world the way you and I do,” LaRue said.

With the rod, Faith will have a greater ability to sit straight up and will soon begin to start physical therapy. Eventually, Faith will learn to walk.

LaRue said in the spring she hopes Faith will be able to ride horses, one of Faith’s favorite things to do.

But for this coming weekend, she said she is just excited to see how Faith will react to the game.

“I am looking forward for her getting to meet the cheerleaders and to see her expression,” LaRue said. “I really want to see her expression when she sees these big, tough football players. She watches them with her dad, but to see them close up and have a gentle hand hold her hand, I just can’t wait for that.”

LaRue said with so many applicants, she and her husband, Ryan LaRue, were shocked that Faith was nominated and chosen out of so many children.

“Faith has always had a look on her face of gratefulness,” Julie LaRue said. “She is just a grateful child and always has this look of thankfulness on her face. If she’s not smiling, there’s something wrong. She is always smiling. She is just a happy child.”

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