Many of you are familiar with the story of The Christmas Shoes; a little boy scrimps and saves to buy his dying mother a pair of shoes so she'll look beautiful when she meets her maker.
We have a much different story about "Christmas shoes," and these shoes are designed for living, not dying. They're designed to give a seven-year-old boy a second chance at childhood.
It's breakfast at the Pursell's house, and it's even busier than usual. Joining the couple's five children at the table these days is seven-year-old Devin Richards, who is in Tallahassee to receive his first pair of artificial legs and his first pair of shoes.
Rudy Simmons, Devin's guardian, says, "It means a great deal to us because I know he will get to be able to walk by himself and go places without anybody having to lift him up and things like that."
Devin was discovered by emergency room Dr. David Keen, who works in Perry but met Devin on a mission trip to St. Vincent. He was one of triplets, the only one born with deformed legs, and the only one abandoned by his parents.
Dr. David Keen says, "The only thing that's wrong with him are his legs, and I thought, this is a no-brainer. We have the technology; we have the ability to do this kind of stuff."
Dr. Keen called on colleagues at the Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic, therapists at Hanger Prosthetics and many others to bring Devin to Tallahassee, offer free surgery and therapy and a free place to stay at the Pursell's. He got his first look at his artificial legs last week.
Bill Pursell says, "He just picked it up, hugged it, and kissed the leg part and was just amazed and immediately flipped it over, checked out the feet and had to smell the toes."
Devin is awaiting some final adjustments to his left prosthetic, but his ultimate gift, his new legs and shoes, should be ready by Christmas, and he tells us he can't wait to dance on them.
Devin's got some tough work ahead trying to master his balance and movements, but will be headed home next month. A lot of people are opening their hearts to make all of this possible.