Girl With Debilitating Bone Disorder Determined To Be Like Her Peers

Three years ago, we introduced you to a little Jacksonville girl with an unusual, debilitating birth defect.

Joy Stricklen was born with severe bone and joint abnormalities -- without knee caps or ankle joints. But now she's pushing 11 years old and to her, she's living that normal life.

"They started her on growth hormone since the last time I talked to you and she's grown four inches," says her father Tommy Stricklen.

Though in a wheelchair, Joy sits tall as anyone else her age.

"I like Nichols [Intermediate School] and I like all my teachers and they help me a lot," Joy says.

Tommy: "We've had a little over a year-and-a-half without a surgery and for us, that's a big milestone because her first surgery was at three and a half months."

For Joy, that is a joyful thing.

"I'm very relieved I don't have to go [to the doctor,]" she says.

But the pain hasn't ended. A recent infection and massive headaches were treated with medication.  That medication had side effects. Plus, Joy is growing.

"It's harder for her to wear her braces, and she has to have something to hold onto when she walks and it's just gotten hard for her to walk on them," Tommy says.

Mom Sheila says aside from an ear procedure, doctors have some excellent news.

"So far, we don't know of any surgeries right now, so that's good."

In 2003, our stories led to a wheelchair lift being installed in the family's van free of charge.  Now the van has stopped running.  Driving their truck around town, they have to rent a car to get to doctors visits in Dallas.

"That's what gets expensive right there, because like when she was sick in November, we were going like two or three times a week," Sheila says.

Still they perservere, and dad is taking on a new role as his girl grows up.

"And she's been looking at boys, and I guess I'm going to have to go up to the school and have a talk to some of these boys," Tommy jokes.

Joy's parents say some kids do tease her from time to time, but that most of the kids at Nichols Intermediate in Jacksonville count joy as a friend. And though she's shy on camera, she's one of the more outgoing in her fifth grade class.

Reported by Morgan Palmer,