Ireland Nugent's family "stunned" by quick progress

10:18 PM, Jun 18, 2013   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Florida -- When Ireland Nugent first saw her new prosthetic legs, she hugged them to herself closely, even insisting on putting them on herself.

As the 2-year-old requested, Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando decorated her prosthetics with Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse. What she didn't expect, though, was a personal touch that only she could see: Tinkerbell inside one, Cinderella inside the other.

"She's inspired me by everything she's done," says her brother, Aiden, about the toddler's journey in the two months since she was hurt in a lawnmower accident. "I knew she'd never give up."

On both Monday and Tuesday, she surprised reporters, prosthetists, and her own family by walking with test limbs quickly and eagerly.

"I was just completely stunned how she just got up and wanted to walk," says her brother, Connor.

Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates will be checking back with Ireland soon to make sure her new prosthetics are still working. Because of how quickly kids grow and how rapidly the size of her residual limbs can change, it's estimated she may need new legs every few months for the first couple years. POA is donating some of its services, and the nonprofit 50 Legs is also helping financially.

One of Ireland's prosthetists, Rick Shultz, was 2-and-a-half years old when he, too, was involved in a lawnmower accident and ended up losing one leg. On Tuesday, his mom, Robin Japp, came to lend support to Ireland's family.

"[Ireland] pulling up the socket like she did, wanting to take charge, was just like Ricky. Not afraid, ready to take off," she says. "It brought tears seeing how well she did, but knowing that the end will be great."

Even when Ireland got tired of being on her feet, as toddlers do, she was easily back to walking when her mom, Nicole, asked, "Do you want to get candy from the car?"

She's motivated by treats, just like her siblings are motivated by her strength.

"Now she can run around," Connor says. "Maybe she'll probably beat me in a race."

"It really doesn't matter what's on the outside, it's what's on the inside," Aiden adds. "That's why everybody likes her so much. She's kind and friendly."

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