POSTED: Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 6:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Nine year old Jonee Matthews looks like a typical fourth grader.
When she runs off the school bus from Reynolds Elementary, she looks forward to playing with her best friend, her next-door neighbor Olivia, and with her pet chicken, Hope.
The chicken is a pet, kept in a box in her Lysander, New York home because its legs were crushed and it has no feet.
Jonee can relate to that; she is missing a leg.
It happened before she came home from the hospital as a baby.
Part of Jonee's life is getting fitted for new limbs as she grows, and the people who build her prosthetics for her at the Hangar Clinic in Upstate's Bone and Joint Center in East Syracuse, are so intrigued by her chicken that they're experimenting with prosthetics for it, as well.
"It's not working how they expected it to," says Jonee, of the work in progress.
Jonee's mother Tina calls her daughter "a miraculous child".
She was born at three pounds, seven ounces--a preemie--and doctors told the family not to have high expectations.
"I think to myself 'ha ha'" says Tina. "You doctors were just so wrong, and she's just above and beyond.
That's not to say it's been an easy 9 years.
"She's hitting some battles now," says her mother, "when other children that don't know her are calling her 'pirate', and I try to tell her that they're not used to seeing that and not to worry, you can do anything they can do, if not better, and I've always pushed that on her."
Jonee is not about to let a prosthetic leg get in her way.
She runs track at school and wants to be in the Olympics some day.
Her older sister Charlee clearly offers support, and so does her father, who's fighting his own battles against a life threatening illness right now.
Jonee seems to take it all in stride, showing off her collection of prosthetic legs, from very tiny when she was a baby, to the brightly decorated current models.
And the chicken, Hope, is never far and always an inspiration.
The leg makers told us they see Jonee, with her cheerful disposition, as an inspiration to their other patients.