DHS student doesn’t let physical limitation stop her

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Marinna Eckel can do more with one hand than most people could do with five.

Born with a rare disease, Eckel came into the world missing one hand. This disorder is called symbrachydactyly, which is an underdevelopment of the bones in the wrist and hand. One in 40,000 children is born with it.

Eckel was adopted from Shanghai when she was 2 1/2 years old.

Her brother, Josh Eckel, was also adopted from China, but they are not biologically related.

Marinna has been going to DHS since her freshman year and her “special hand” has never stopped her from doing what she loves. She is involved in many clubs, including FCA, Class of 2014 Officer, ASL Club and PALS, as well as being a member of the athletic training staff.

“It does not affect me being so involved in school,” she said. “I find some difficulty, mainly with athletic training, just wrapping and stuff, but I find a way to do it.”

With a passion for helping people and doing the best she can, Marinna always finds a way to complete a task, although it may take a little longer than most people.

“Whenever I find something I can’t do, I need to figure out how to do it,” she said. “I always find a way to do it, but it’s a challenge.”

Marinna thinks of herself as just another student.

“I hope people don’t treat me differently because I don’t want to be in the spotlight and get special treatment,” she said.

Josh Eckel is 15 years old and is a freshman at DHS.

Adopted from Hefei, China, at 5 years old, Josh also has a disability and can relate to his sister.

“I was not born with this disability; I was burned in a fire when I was about 3 months old,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m treated any differently. I’m good.”

Josh is also very involved at school.

“I’m in band and jazz band, and I’ve been playing the trumpet since 6th grade,” he said. “My condition does not make it any more difficult to be involved in school.”

With his grades and passion for the trumpet, Josh has big plans for the future.

“When I grow up, I want to be an engineer for NASA or a professional jazz musician,” he said.

Marinna has found some advantages to her disability.

“There are some positives,” she said. “You join a whole other community of people who are just like you and you get to meet new people. I go to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and they have a hand camp for kids who have a special hand like me.”

She has been attending this camp since she was 14, and she says she loves it.

“There’s HD2, which is the camp that I’ve been going to for five years,” Marinna said. “I also went to the little kid camp. It’s just a camp for kids, with no parents there, at Peaceful Kingdom in Killeen, Texas. It’s a whole week in the summer and it’s a time to be yourself with other kids who are just like you. They have anything you would see at a regular camp, but they have certain things that will help you if you need it.”

Marinna’s favorite part of the summer is attending this camp. She loves meeting new people and sharing experiences with them.

“I find ways to do what everyone else can do, I know I’m different but I don’t feel sorry for myself,” she said. “I make the best out of it, and I have fun with it. My life is perfect the way it is, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

JORDAN GILL is a sophomore at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.

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