03:35 AM

Dog-walking program helping kids regain mobility

It's one of Maria Ornelas's favorite days of the year-dog walking day at Hospital Hill Park.

"Everybody just makes you feel welcome here," said Ornelas, who often chooses a collies for her companion but really any dog will do. Her mom says it's one of her daughter's favorite hobbies to walk in the company of a four-legged friend.

But not long ago, simply walking at all was painful for Maria Ornelas.

"I used to limp a lot, I have Blount's Disease and I couldn't really do anything because I had surgery three or four times," she said.

Ornelas was chosen for this Children's Mercy Hospital study, which allows kids with orthopedic issues to walk with dogs and their volunteer handlers for several weeks in an effort to get them moving again despite their injuries or illnesses.

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